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Deep Blue Project should secure maritime anchorage areas – Omatseye

A former President, African Shipowners Association of Nigeria (ASAN), Mr. Temisan Omatseye, says the Deep Blue Project should be the security structure for anchorage areas in the Nigerian maritime domain.

Omatseye said this at the maiden Maritime Reporters Association of Nigeria (MARAN) annual lecture on Wednesday in Lagos.

Anchorage is an area off the coast which is suitable for a ship to anchor.

The lecture had the theme: ‘Maritime Security: Emerging Threats and Actionable Steps.’

He said this would reduce the cost of shipping of goods into the country.

According to him, every foreign shipping company pays $50,000 per vessel for security patrol boats at the anchorage, thereby increasing the cost of good imported into the country.

He explained that the Deep Blue Project could do the service free or at a much subsidised rate, since the former operator Ocean Marine Solutions Ltd. (OMSL) was accused of extorting shipping companies.

“We should stop playing politics with the shipping industry. There was a lacuna because of insecurity, hence the coming in of the OMSL to create a car park on the waterways, the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA).

“A joint venture was signed with the Navy for security and the Nigerian Ports Authority for space, so if government wants to stop the SAA, it should be replaced,” he said.

Omatseye also called for the establishment of a Response Zone Transit Corridor, to create a partial transit corridor in key high risk areas.

This, he said, would enable the country to be aware of vessels that were within the Nigerian maritime environment.

He listed some of the benefits of a secured anchorage as increased trade to Nigerian ports, revenue generation and to compliment the Deep Blue project.

Also speaking, Mr. Emmanuel Maiguwa, President, Maritime Security Providers Association of Nigeria, stressed the need for a competent agency to man the anchorage.

Maiguwa also called for proper framework that would help the country deal with maritime security threats.

The president, however, kicked against coast guard which he described as a nomenclature, insisting that he does not like the idea of coast guard which he described as a nomenclature.

“If you look at it more specifically, we actually need to do a risk assessment because I have been involved in a lot of risk assessments.

“One needs to look at the parameters surrounding the routes and the water, the region of the area that has personal traffic. So, it doesn’t start and end with that portion being secured,” he said.

Maiguwa said that Nigeria needs to adopt the International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) code.

“I have always said that the ISPS provides only minimal requirements. It then means there are a lot of issues. In fact, the ISPS on its own is not applicable to all facilities.

“The ISPS is not an instrument conceived by the framework to deal with maritime security threats. It is not an instrument holistically to deal with terrorism.

“The framework is concerned that shipping will be used to launch terrorism attacks on the homeland and therefore it concentrated on the areas where foreign ships visit,” he said.

He, however, asked what happens to an adjacent facility that does not receive foreign vessels? What happens to our vessels that are actually outside the convention?

“Those were the risks to the environment. And I have said it and I will always emphasise that it is very important that we have a competent agency to man the anchorage,” he said.

The Deep Blue Project, known as the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, is being championed by the Nigerian Maritime Administrative and Security Agency (NIMASA).

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