Nigerian Shipowners boycott Secure Anchorage, say it’s illegal

Abiola Seun    |        

Nigerian Shipowners have boycotted the controversial Secure Anchorage Area, describing it as illegal and not of international best practices.

Speaking to journalists in Lagos last week, the President of the Nigerian Shipowners Association (NISA), Aminu Umar said local Shipowners haven’t patronised the secured Anchorage since it started in the last Administration.

Umar who disclosed that the Nigerian Navy informed Shipowners that they didn’t grant approval for the operation of the secure anchorage, said in neighbouring countries, anchorage is under the authority of the country’s port authority and Navy.

He said, “I remember some years back, before this government when this secure Anchorage contract was approved, many of the Shipowners’ particularly the Nigerian shipowners have said it is not supposed to be because it is the primary responsibility of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigerian Navy to provide a secure Anchorage in any country and we have seen it in all other West African countries”.

“There is no country private sector run a secure Anchorage, nowhere in the world, however, presently today, I don’t think there is any Nigerian shipowner that is using or utilising the secure Anchorage.

“We have never used it before but I think the international Shipowners that come or call in the country particularly Lagos felt that they don’t feel secured at the Anchorage that is under the control of NPA, NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy so they prefer to have a special Anchorage that makes them more secured and where they see the patrols being done because of the frequency of attack outside Nigerian waters. This is why the SAA has been operating for these years”.

Speaking on the Nigerian Navy denial of approving a secure Anchorage, he said, “On Wednesday, I was at a forum where the Navy said they never gave approval for that and that the approval was given by the NPA so this is it. I think, it has always been that we want our anchorage to be secured and it is part of the money we pay to NIMASA , NPA and that is what is obtainable all over the world where every Anchorage you arrive anywhere, particularly in West Africa countries Lome, and Benin it is under their port, you arrive they take you where to park, you are supposed to be under the security of this office and that is how it’s supposed to be all over the world “.

“So, I don’t want to question the approval at that time but actually, we have never used it, but the international shipowners have been using it and it’s because they believe it gives them security they should get”.

The former president, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun also stated that the laws of the country doesn’t support operations of a secure Anchorage.

He however commended the NPA for stopping the secure anchorage saying it has done the right thing.

He said, “every country has got its own laws, and as much as possible, we must all operate within the laws of the country. Does the law of Nigeria allow the operation of a Secure Anchorage for vessels by a private firm? The answer is No. I believe that it is on this premise that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has cancelled the Secure Anchorage system,” Ogbeifun said.

He stated further, “From what I see, NPA took that decision on behalf of the ship-owners who use the Secure Anchorage. Do you know that every day, every ship that uses the Secure Anchorage pays $2000 daily?

“That is a huge cost element that is borne by the shipowner and the ship operator. If stopping that dedicated Secure Anchorage is going to save the shipowners approximately $60,000 a month, I think what NPA has come up with is commendable.”

Ogbeifun however charged the NPA, Navy and NIMASA to ensure the Anchorage is free from pirate attacks. “Having said that, I will like to believe that the NPA is a responsible government agency and must have thought it through why a dedicated secure anchorage was set up in the first place”

“The NPA has said that it is engaging with the Nigerian Navy to improve the safety of our general anchorage. The NPA MD even said that the agency is acquiring patrol vessels to be able to engage the Nigerian Navy much more. I will like to believe that there are government platforms already put in place to carry out these functions.

” Instead of encouraging private sector initiatives as regards safety in our anchorage, let us encourage government platforms and agencies to up their ante to be able to do the job”.

“I think the NPA, the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are not folding their arms. They are doing something in that direction; let us encourage them to do it. It is better for ship-owners to contribute in any way they can to make the government platforms workable than this private thing called Secure Anchorage.

“Can you imagine, let’s say 30 ships stay in the Secure Anchorage, that is $60,000 a month multiplied by 30 ships, that is huge. Imagine if a fraction of that amount goes towards encouraging government led initiative, ship-owners won’t have to pay that much and such money won’t have to end in private pockets. I think the NPA has done the right thing by stopping the Secure Anchorage.”

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