By Godwin Oritse & Godfrey Bivbere
THE House of Representative Adhoc Committee on maritime security has expressed concern over the general deterioration of maritime business, a development that has led to the loss of over N15billion from the fishing sub-sector alone.
The Committee led by Honourable Ehiogie West Idahosa also decried the state of insecurity of lives, properties and investment in the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Committee was set by the House of Representatives to investigate the inability of the appropriate security agencies to protect the maritime assets of Nigeria and to review the present measures employed in protecting the marine environment.
West Idahosa said that the non-compliance of most of the security agencies to the International Ship and Ports Facility Security (ISPS) was also responsible for the lack of security currently being experienced in the sector.
â€œThe House members was deeply worried about the unprecedented spate of hijacking coastal vessels engaged in fishing operations, the frequent kidnaping of crew members, loss of gainful employment and the general deterioration of maritime businesses.
â€œThe number of companies effectively engaged in fishing and shrimping operations in Nigeriaâ€™s territorial waters in 2009 are now about 20 from about 250 that existed in 2004.
â€œThere has been loss of numerous lives and valuable equipment, making the maritime industry unattractive to investors.
â€œThe total estimated loss to the fishing industry alone is about N15billion, this unquantifiable loss of revenue by Federal Government of Nigeria due to the said theft of crude oil and inability of the appropriate agencies to police our maritime space
“Between May and June 2009, our country lost about 1.7 million barrel of crude oil which in financial terms amounts to about $9billionâ€. He stated.
The Committee however scored the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) low adding that the institutionÂ and other security agencies are not capable of putting adequate security measures in place to protect the nationâ€™s maritime environment.