By Chris Ochayi
To ensure effective surveillance and security of its territorial waters, the Federal Government has acquired radar with coverage of 100 nautical miles to survey and monitor movements of vessels on the high seas.
Minister of Transport, Alhaji Ibrahim Isa Bio disclosed this in Abuja at a press briefing where he unveiled the activities marking the 2nd Ministerial Conference on Port State (Abuja MoU) and the 10th anniversary celebration of the Abuja MOU, beginning from Thursday this week.
Alhaji Bio disclosed that, a total of 36 patrol boast have been acquired for the same purpose which are located in Lagos state, Calabar and Port Harcourt as well as the Escravos.
He explained that, though NIMASA, the agency charged with the responsibility of security of the territorial waters has no enforcement capacity to ensure safety of the water, because they donâ€™t handle arms and ammunition, the body is collaborating with the Nigerian Navy to meet the security challenges.
Alhaji Bio stated further that, the Abuja MOU, which came into force in Abuja, Nigeria on October 22, 1999, and comprised of 19 member states, was established to ensure a system of harmonised inspection procedures designed to target and eradicate the operation of sub-standard vessels.
He said it was also developed to improve the working and living conditions of the crew on board and protect the marine environment in the West and Central African region, adding, â€œthis is in compliance with relevant international conventions through cooperation, information exchange and harmonisation of Port Control State, PSC, proceduresâ€.
â€œThis MOU has not only brought sister-countries together to address common issues that affect their maritime industry, eco-system, and to a large extent, their regional economies arising from issues of security, pollution, sub-standard shipping, and capacity building, it also helped to address the dearth of data to co-ordinate safety and security maters in our coastal waters.
â€œThe development of Regional Integrated Shipping Information System Abuja MOU information primarily provided by member states pursuant to instrument and regulation adopted by IMO as well as cooperation agreement signed between MOUs, is a major step forward towards achieving this objectives.
â€œThe member countries of the Abuja MOU, are committed to the protection of life and property at sea and to the preservation of the maritime environment from ship-sourced pollution in the regionâ€.
He saidÂ the 2nd Ministerial Conference themed, â€œRegional Co-operation and Commitment to the Eradication of SubstandardÂ Shipping and Protection of Marine Environmentâ€ would be attended by 30 Ministers from the Abuja MOU region and other regions of the world.