By Clara Nwachukwu
LAGOS—Indigenous firms involved in the supply of some hardwares for the surveillance of the water ways and crude oil assets in the Niger Delta have claimed that they are currently being owed about N1billion for their services.
The sum, which is the cumulative debts owed them by the Federal Ministries of Finance and Defense, they complained, was threatening the cordial relationship between them and the Joint Task Force, JTF.
Among the firms contracted are Messrs Etucom Integrated Services Limited; Peaches Integrated Limited; and Godsam Indudstrial Services Limited.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos on the matter at the weekend, the contractors warned of a “looming security catastrophe” if they were not paid urgently.
It will be recalled that the Federal Government estimated that the country loses about 150,000 barrels per day to crude oil theft, bunkering and pipeline vandalism, such that the withdrawal of surveillance services might further exacerbate the criminal acts.
Spokesperson for the group, Mr. Otomewo Peter Eberiere, disclosed that the firms were contracted by the ministries to lease out of their fleet 14 ‘House Boats’ to the JTF for their surveillance operations in the oil-rich Niger Delta.
He said the boats, valued at about $400,000 each, were specifically built to assist the JTF in the strategic task of protecting the waterways, swamps, and oil pipelines against crude oil theft, sea piracy and illegal crude oil bunkering.
The Houseboats were also to serve as a source of accommodation for the JTF teams.