28 July 2014, Lagos – Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has cried out at the high rate at which the country’s oil is been stolen on daily basis, putting the figures at 150,000 to 200,000 barrels.
It is for this reason, according to the Agency, it has through its robust maritime domain awareness system, has developed the NIMASA Satellite Surveillance Centre (NSSC) through which it now monitors happenings in the country’s territorial waters.
Director General of the Agency, Mr. Patrick Ziakede Akpobolokemi, made this disclosure last week in Lagos at a world press conference held at the Eko Hotels & Suites, Victoria Island.
He announced that to ensure effective policing of the nation’s territorial waters, the Agency had to go into Memorandumn of Understanding (MoU) with the Navy and Air Force to realise its objectives.
“For any sustainable and meaningful growth in the maritime sector, a robust maritime domain awareness system is inevitable. NIMASA has therefore entered into a Memorandum of Understanding with the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Air Force to enhance water patrol and aerial surveillance of Nigeria’s maritime domain”, he stated.
Akpobolokemi made it clear that the the Agency’s desire was to provide a safety net for all those doing business in the country’s territorial waters, adding that with the NSSC launched last month, NIMASA could respond to any distress call from the country’s territorial waters and beyond.
He added, “The new 24-hour Satellite Surveillance equipment has the capability to detect boats, ships and objects of predefined cross-section floating on water. This includes any aircraft that ditches and remains on the surface during satellite over-flight. Its abilities further include but are not limited to setting range rings in restricted areas which when penetrated by an intruder, triggers an alarm thereby alerting the operator/watchkeeper”.
The NIMASA boss, who was represented at the event by the Executive Director, Shipping Development and Maritime Safety, Captain Ezekiel Bala Agaba, informed that it was with the aid of the equipment that they were able to rescue a Ghanaian flagged vessel hijacked by pirates off the coast of Ghana last June.
Other functions of the equipment, according to him, included seeing beyond Nigeria’s territorial waters; identifying ship positions in real time; plot search and rescue patterns; detect vessels that switch off their Automatic Identification System (AIS) and interrogate the satellite image for more information.
On the establishment of a national carrier, Akpobolokemi said the Agency was at the forefront of seeing it come alive under the Public Private Partnership (PPP) initiative that had been very productive under President Jonathan’s regime.
“It is based on this premise that the Agency us working at actualising the establishment of a national carrier line. The national carrier line will re-establish the presence of Nigerian flag in international waters; provide training and retraining of Nigerian seafarers while also serving as a catalyst for shipping development in the country with a resultant positive impact on the nation’s economy”, he stated.
He made it clear that the new carrier line would be largely driven by the private sector that would be solely responsible for the operation and management of the company.
Speaking about the controversial Messrs. Global West Vessels Specialist Limited contract, Akpobolokemi said, it has “made it possible for the Agency today to enforce maritime regulations”.
“Prior to the concession contract, the Agency was practically constrained to enforce regulations and undertake any meaningful field operations as expected of a Maritime Administration. We have successfully reversed the trend as we now have complete patrol of our maritime domain with considerable capability to respond to marine emergencies within a reasonable time frame”, the NIMASA boss added.
– Daily Newswatch