Insecurity may rubbish NIMASA’S forecast


By Tayo Oladipupo  |

Recently, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) launched a forecast program, a mirror intended to monitor the level of growth and development of the maritime industry year after year.
In the forecast, the agency projected a minimum of 2% and maximum of 5% growth on annual basis.

As laudable as this seems, many factors may pose a threat to its workability, making it a fallacious forecast. Principal among them is the menace of insecurity on Nigeria waterways which is a major clog in the achievement of the forecast.

The economic implications of piracy are enormous. It kills business and hampers the growth of the maritime industry. The oil and gas industry in Nigeria, perhaps, would have been more developed without piracy, and would have translated to more revenue for the government.

As a result of this appalling situation, it has become more expensive for ships to come into Nigeria, because sailing into the country can be likened to embarking on a voyage to a possible point of no return. The economic implications of piracy are just too many to ignore.

In 2017, the NIMASA surveillance satellite was reportedly down, hence, could not monitor the movement of vessels in and out of the country’s waterways. So  it could not decipher where pirate attacks occur let alone send rescue to affected vessels, therefore, failing in the purpose for which it was established.

In a chat, the National President of Nigeria Trawler Owners Association (NITOA), Akinsola Amire, lamented on how NIMASA had not done enough to tackle the insecurity on waterways. According to him, trawler vessels are  being attacked daily by sea robbers and pirates who sometimes abduct crew members of the vessels for ransoms.

To him, NIMASA did nothing to  curtail insecurity.

Furthermore, vessels with Eastern bound cargoes would hire security personnel as escorts as soon as they delivered the Lagos cargoes against invasion by pirates and sea robbers in the eastern axis.

In fact, wikipedia quotes International Maritime Bureau (IMB) as saying the pirates on Nigerian waters are the most volatile in the world. They are described as the deadliest.

As a result, vessel owners cough out between $20,000 and $30,000 dollars to hire security for vessels going from Lagos to eastern ports because of the fear of pirate attacks or sea robbers who hold sway without restrictions.

However, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has said that 2017 alone recorded a colossal 89 cases of piracy on Nigeria’s waterways.

The number of maritime kidnappings hit a ten – year high in 2016, with all pirate attacks in Nigeria rising from 14 in 2015 to 36 in 2016 despite the huge sum NIMASA sinks into safety annually.

The geographical distribution of kidnap for ransom attacks underlined another trend that OBP observed for several years. Almost two-third of all incidents recorded in 2016 were reported off Nigeria in the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) and territorial waters and violent attacks in particular are concentrated almost exclusively in that area.

For most countries in West Africa, limited maritime capacities remain a challenge for law enforcement agencies. The absence of robust legal frameworks, insufficient effectiveness of domestic justice systems, and other factors inhibit the legal conclusion of prosecutions related to criminal activities at sea.

This is emphasized by the fact that to date, there has been no successful prosecution for maritime piracy in West Africa.

However, with attacks on vessels unabated, all efforts by NIMASA to create a yearly outlook of the industry may not be feasible because of the uncertainty in security of vessels.

The high rate of insecurity and inability to guarantee the safe trip of vessels to Nigeria is a big challenge that scares shipping companies and their agents away.

Concerted effort to secure vessels within Nigeria especially from Lagos port to Eastern port will go a long way in achieving the desired goal.

© 2018, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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