The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki has expressed delight at the equipment and assets the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), stating that that underscores the importance the Federal Government attaches to combating maritime crimes and ensuring zero tolerance for illegal activities on the nation’s territorial waters.
While on a tour of NIMASA’s facilities and assets on Thursday, Senator Saraki commended the synergy and collaboration among agencies in the maritime sector and the government, and expressed delight that Nigeria has witnessed piracy-free waters.
Assets inspected by the Minister included the NIMASA Command, Control and Computer Centre, the NIMASA Modular Floating Dockyard, the NIMASA e-library and vessels belonging to the agency undergoing dry docking at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island.
She said: “For over 28 years, we have been in the press for the wrong reasons over the piracy issues at the Gulf of Guinea. We were there when Mr. President commissioned the Deep Blue Project last year and within that short frame of time, we have broken the jinx, and for the last five months zero attacks. So I think that says it all for my assessment of NIMASA”.
Senator Saraki noted the need to sustain the momentum to ensure Nigeria remains attractive to investors, adding that the Ministry is delighted at the steps NIMASA is taking to address the issue of war risk insurance premium on Nigeria-round cargoes.
“The most important thing now is that we don’t rest on our oars. The Free Trade Agreement and how it affects Nigeria is our focus. We hope to create an enabling environment to be very attractive and highly competitive when compared to neighboring countries and collaboration amongst all maritime agencies of government in terms of information gathering and sharing is key in achieving this”. she said.
On his part, NIMASA Director General, Dr Bashir Jamoh disclosed that the focus of the agency is to sustain the recent achievements in recent times, adding that the plans are short, medium and long terms.
Our focus now is to sustain the tempo he said. “We are very optimistic that the clamour for the removal of war risk insurance premium on Nigerian bound cargoes will soon yield positive results. The international community desires sustainability of the war on piracy and maritime crimes in Nigeria. The good thing is that they are part and parcel of our processes and procedures”.
The DG further said: “We have the Nigeria Join Industry Working Group where all stakeholders, including the INTERTANKO (the International Association of Independent Tanker Owners), the largest owners of tankers in the world; the INTERCARGO (the International Association of Dry Cargo Shipowners), the largest owners of cargoes in the world; and the major oil marketing companies meet regularly to discuss developments in the Nigerian maritime industry. We have also strengthened our collaboration with the Nigerian Navy. The SHADE Gulf of Guinea is another platform where inter regional organisations such as the ICC and the European Union foster collaboration to secure the Gulf of Guinea.
“Though Nigeria was removed from the red list of piracy nations on 3rd of March this year, it is natural that the international community will desire sustainability. Our hope is that by September this year, the issue of war risk insurance will be addressed when the Lloyd’s of London, coordinators of insurance surcharges on Nigeria-bound cargoes meet to deliberate on our position paper which highlights the short, medium, and long term plans to sustain the achievements in our war against piracy in Nigeria”.