By ZION Olalekan
Following the increase in pirate activities on Nigerian waters, proponents of the controversial Maritime Security Agency Bill (MASECA) have told the federal government that if signed into law, the agency shall be operating on a one percent of the value of the gross tonnage of in-bound and out-bound cargo in vessels calling at or departing from any port in Nigeria.
A merchant naval officer and senior merchant navy directorate, Captain James Falabi in a research document sent to our correspondent noted that the fear of the Nigerian Navy, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is that MASECA was going to usurp their budget and their statutory functions.
Falabi who is also a security expert however argued that “The fact is that cargo owners are already paying more than the above to private security companies and indirectly to security agencies private accounts”
“The issue is this; All tankers must register to the NHQ (Navy Headquarter) and this is charged at gross tonnage of the vessel. Every bunkering operation you must have Naval Approval with the HQ charge per gross tonnage of the cargo From the point of loading to the point of discharge you will need escort the charges is a couple of million naira. At deport, the Nigerian Navy still collect N35, 000.00 per truck.
“The above expenses built into the cost of cargo does not get to the nation account; it enriches the salary earners, law enforcements officers; the cumulative figure is about 5% of gross of cargo carried” he revealed.
He also assured that passage of the controversial bill will bring back Nigerian importers who have deserted Nigerian ports to divert their cargoes to neighbouring ports of Cotonou, Lome and Ghana.
According to him, Nigeria has been classed as high risk zone by the international insurance community, hence they pay high premium which cannot equate with 1% of gross of cargo carried.
According to him, the collaboration between Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy does not give the required secure image to attract low insurance premium for vessel and goods coming to Nigeria.
He said indirectly, the ship and Cargo owners are paying to secure their risk of trading in Nigeria.
According to him, “There is huge capital flight in the country; most shipping companies have shifted operation to Cotonou, Togo, and Ghana, some European and Asian companies have relocated or cancelled their operations entirely form Africa.
“The Maritime Security of the Nation cannot be combined with other portfolio without defects. Though Nigeria was colonized by the British but Nigerians are Americans in nature and will need MASECA treatment for our aliments as the coast guard is effective in America. MERSECA will be effective and relevant in Nigeria.
“MERSECA will engage over three thousand seafarers directly and ten thousand indirectly, apart from the direct and indirect employment that would be created by the MASECA, new investment as a result of security drive would bring fresh job creation.
“MASECA objectives of employment creation removes security treats by 60% directly, further 20% indirectly, we are now left with 20% which are categorized as new threat are hardened criminals that would be mitigated by surveillance intelligence and use of force”.
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