Ship-owners laud cancellation of secure anchorage area

• Says operators paying through their noses

Ship-owners have backed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) over its decision to cancel the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) payment operated by OMSL Limited, a private security firm in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.

Speaking to selected maritime journalists in Lagos recently, Chairman/CEO of Starzs Investments Company Limited, Engr Greg Ogbeifun stated that government agencies should be encouraged to manage secure anchorages on Nigerian waters.

According to Ogbeifun, “every country has got its own laws, and as much as possible, we must all operate within the laws of the country. Does the law of Nigeria allow the operation of a Secure Anchorage for vessels by a private firm? The answer is No. I believe that it is on this premise that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has cancelled the Secure Anchorage system.

“From what I see, NPA took that decision on-behalf of the ship-owners who use the Secure Anchorage. Do you know that every day, every ship that uses the Secure Anchorage pays $2000 daily? That is a huge cost element that is borne by the ship-owner and the ship operator. If stopping that dedicated Secure Anchorage is going to save the ship-owners approximately $60,000 a month, I think what NPA has come up with is commendable.

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“Having said that, I will like to believe that the NPA is a responsible government agency and must have thought it through why a dedicated Secure Anchorage was set up in the first place. The NPA has said that it is engaging with the Nigerian Navy to improve the safety of our general anchorage. The NPA MD even said that the agency is acquiring patrol vessels to be able to engage the Nigerian Navy much more. I will like to believe that there are government platforms already put in place to carry out these functions. Instead of encouraging private sector initiatives as regards safety in our anchorage, let us encourage government platforms and agencies to up their ante to be able to do the job.

“I think the NPA, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are not folding their arms. They are doing something in that direction; let us encourage them to do it. It is better for ship-owners to contribute in any way they can to make the government platforms workable than this private thing called Secure Anchorage.

“Can you imagine, let’s say 30 ships stay in the Secure Anchorage, that is $60,000 a month multiply by 30 ships, that is huge. Imagine if a fraction of that amount goes towards encouraging government-led initiative, ship-owners won’t have to pay that much and such money won’t have to end in private pockets. I think the NPA has done the right thing by stopping the Secure Anchorage.”

Also speaking on the Secure Anchorage cancellation, President of the Nigerian Ship-owners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar stated that a privately managed secure anchorage is wrong. In his words, “it is the primary responsibility of the NIMASA, Nigerian Navy and the NPA to provide. There is nowhere in the world where a private firm provides secure anchorage services.

“There have been talks of the company handling the secure anchorage, saying it is answerable to the Nigerian Navy and not the NPA. But I was in a forum recently where the Navy said it never gave approval for any private firm to handle secure anchorage on Nigerian waters.

“As ship-owners, we want our anchorages to be secure. This should be part of the money we pay to NIMASA and the NPA. There are two anchorages in Lagos, the Secure Anchorage run by OMSL Limited and the Lagos anchorage run by NIMASA. The whole anchorage should be managed by the government. Nowhere in the world where a private firm is allowed to manage an anchorage on national waters.”

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