By Godwin Oritse
AGAINST the backdrop of the increased incidents of sea piracy in Nigeria’s waters late last year, the leadership of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has indicated that the Agency is being equipped to bring down the rate of attacks in 2020. It also expressed disappointment and embarrassment at the recent upsurge in the spate of attacks.
Speaking in Lagos, weekend, the Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, however, restated the agency’s commitment and determination to ensure that the country’s territorial waters was free of piracy and all forms of maritime crime in 2020 to further boost investment opportunities in the blue economy.
He said under the $195 million maritime security contract, four interceptor vessels and the second special mission vessel will arrive the country before the end of next month.
The director general said the agency has equally built capacity to track ships coming and leaving Nigeria including ability to do a five-year profile on ships to identify and track vessels of interest and know the ones likely to be involved in illegal activities.
Peterside stated: “The big issue for us is security. It is unfortunate that in the last quarter of last year, there was a spike in the number of piracy attacks and maritime breaches of security incidents within our coastal waters. It is embarrassing but we are tackling it head on.
“HLSL is helping us acquire assets ahead of time. Last year December, the special mission vessel got into the country and this month, a number of interceptor vessels will come into the country.
“The second special mission vessel will come in by early February. The idea is to respond whenever there is a threat of criminality on our waterways. We are doing a lot of things in that area and we hope that result will begin to yield by second quarter of this year.
“Our optimism is that there will be significant drop in issue of piracy and maritime crimes within our coastal waters because without safety and security, nobody can optimize the benefits of trading within our waters.”