By Godwin Oritse
LAGOS—THE Federal Government yesterday said it had contracted the security of the nation’s waterways to an Isreali security firm at the cost of $186 million.
Disclosing this in Lagos, at the World Maritime Day with the theme, “Connecting Ships, Ports and People,” Minister of Transport, Mr, Rotimi Amaechi, said the three-year contract would also see the firm train members of the Nigerian military personnel on water security, saying the intervention will save huge security cost for the likes of Mearsk line shipping firm that spends between $15 million and $18 million annually on escorts.
According to him, “Security is a major challenge globally especially in the Gulf of Guinea. There have been major concerns and developments to address the issues of Maritime security along the Gulf of Guinea. Various initiatives, actions, programmes and centres/organisation have been developed and established to counter this insecurity. This administration has seen the need for all relevant maritime agencies to synergize to improve efficiency in our ports.”
He noted that the Federal Government had recorded some level of success on the concessioning of Onitsha River Port, “while others like Lokoja, Baro, Oguta River Ports are all in the pipeline and a priority for this administration.The Maintenance Dredging of Ajaokuta to Onitsha channels of River Niger is a major step to boost the huge potentials in our Inland Waterways Transportation.”
“On the ever present challenge of vehicular movement in our ports especially the Apapa/Tincan Island ports, efforts have been made by the Federal Government to ease congestion and proffer solution to the ever persistent gridlock characterising the movement of goods and people to these ports. The new policy of Government is that all new rail lines entering the coastal states of the country must be extended to the sea ports to make them more efficient, functional and viable.”
“Accordingly Government has extended the Lagos-Ibadan rail link from Ebute Metta to Apapa port complex and is currently rehabilitating the narrow gauge rail line to start evacuating goods from Tincan Island and Apapa ports. Equally the coastal rail (Lagos – Calabar) project has extension to Warri port, Onne deep sea port – Port Harcourt and Calabar Port and Export Processing zones – Calabar. This will support the desired efficiency at the ports for loading and off loading of goods at the ports and also eliminate multiple handling and de-emphasised warehousing at the ports.