Director-General Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh has presented to Senate that the agency was proposing N160 billion as its total expenditure for the 2023 fiscal year. Meanwhile, the Senate has hailed NIMASA for achieving zero attacks on any vessel on the Nigerian waterways in the last one year.
Speaking in Abuja when he appeared before the Senator Danjuma Goje, led Senate Committee on Marine Transport to defend the 2023 budget estimates, the NIMASA DG told the Senate Committee that the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea project greatly enabled the agency to tackle the unfortunate wave of banditry and piracy on Nigerian waterways. Jamoh said that the attacks on vessels on the Nigerian waterways, worsened some time in 2019, thereby forcing stakeholders in the global maritime sector to declare Nigeria waters as the worst to navigate on. He said that the situation led to the establishment of the Deep Blue Sea Project to tackle the menace.
The NIMASA boss said, “The Deep Blue Sea Project was initiated between 2016 and 2017 when the international community declared Nigerian waters as the most dangerous to trade. The budget of the Navy, whose responsibility it is to ensure security on the sea, was too slim to carry out the task. At the same time, the Act establishing NIMASA stipulates that we should provide security for the vessels navigating the nation’s territorial waters. We are to safeguard and protect the vessels against attacks. This led to the establishment of the Deep Blue Sea Project which made use of the land, air and sea assets. .
“That led to the use of the Nigerian Navy Platform On land, we have 16 armoured vehicles specially built to take care of creeks. In the whole world, Nigerian creeks are the biggest and most dangerous terrain to penetrate. That was where the men of the underworld hide and launch consistent attacks on the vessels. They kidnap people in the process and hide them in the creeks. The armoured vehicles were built specially to enter the creeks and fish out the criminals and their victims. We also have the Command and the Command Centre which enables our personnel to see any target on the sea throughout the day and night. It also enables them to react to anything that constitute danger either in the sea, a it or land. Apart from that, we have the sea platforms which constitutes two special mission vessels which have the capacity to stay on the high sea for almost three days without refuelling.
“We also have some aircraft which were also deployed for the project. As of 2020, Nigeria was recording one attack of vessels per day. However by February 2021, President Muhammadu Buhari directed that only the NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy should provide security on the nation’s territorial waters. All the platforms were handed over to the Nigerian Navy, Air force and the Army. By the their quarter of 2021, we have achieved the milestone. We reduced the attacks, from one per day to one per month. I am happy to announce to this committee, that we have not had a single attack since the third quarter of 2021 to date.
“In addition to that, the international community in March this year, saved Nigeria from the stigma of having the most dangerous water to trade. We have succeeded exceedingly with the implementation of the Deep Blue Sea Project with some foreign countries already supporting us in recognition of our success story. “ At the end of the day, Chairman of the Committee and members expressed satisfaction with the achievement of NIMASA on the project implementation. Goje said, “I commend NIMASA for eradicating attacks of vessels on the Nigerian territorial waters and I want the DG and his men to sustain it.”