Lagos — The Federal Government through the Federal Ministry of Transportation is proposing to spend a whopping N8.7billion annually for the rental of fast intervention boat with which it hope to tackle maritime crimes on the nation’s coastal and territorial waters.
In a Memo dated July 2020 and titled, “Memorandum seeking consideration and approval for the extension of the contract for the lease of six (6) units of fast intervention security vessels for a period of twelve (12) months with effect 1st of October 2019 to 30th November 2020, at the daily rate of $10,500 (Ten thousand five hundred Dollars) per vessel/day.”, the Minister proposed six companies that will be contracted to supply the boats and the firms are Pearl H.P.W Limited, Thamson Energy Services Limited, Fairway Offshore Limited, Aquashield Oil and Marine Services Limited, XPO Marine Services Limited and Peace Marine and Energy Limited.
Recall that before the current proposal of boat rental, a similar approval was granted for the same number of vessels, for same amount and for the same purpose in December 2018.
In the Memo, signed by the Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi and sighted by Vanguard Maritime Report, the Minister proposed to the Federal Executive Council, FEC, to consider the request for the approval of the proposal considering the efficiency of the vessels at their various location, their familiarity with the existing operational protocols and the need to ensure that they carry on with the effective coverage of the nation’s vast waterways, ports and jetties.
In the Memo, the Minister opined that it was expedient that the six boats intervention vessels remain at their current call up points and some of the call up point are Lagos – Badagry axis/Offshore which is allocated to Peace Marine and Energy Limited, Calabar – Eket axis Offshore allocated to Fairway Offshore Limited while Aquashield has its location at the Warri-Escravos Offshore.
Others are the Koko –Sapele axis Offshore operated by XPO Marine Services Limited, Onne – Bonny axis Offshore allocated to Pearl HPW Limited and Nembe- Brass-Yenagoa-Sagbama axis Offshore which is allocated to Thamson Energy Services Limited.
In the memo, the Bureau for Public Procurement, BPP in a memo with reference number BPP/RPT/20/Vol.1/005 and dated 29th April 2020, has also granted the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, a ‘No Objection’ for the renewal of the contract for an additional year.
Part of the Memo reads: “The purpose of this Memorandum is to seek the consideration and approval of the Federal Executive Council for the extension of the contract for the lease of 6 units of Fast Intervention Security Vessels (FISV) on the same terms and conditions as earlier approved by the Federal Executive Council in 2018.
“At the expiration of the lease period and considering that the National Surveillance and Waterways Protection Infrastructure in Nigeria (Deep Blue Project) which was approved by the Council in 2017as comprehensive solution to the problem of insecurity and economic sabotage in Nigeria’s waterway was yet to commence and the Agency Approached the Bureau of Public Procurement and granted a No Objection for the renewal of the contract for an additional period of one (1) year from 1st of December, 2019 to 30th November, 2020.
“There is provision in the NIMASA 2020 budget with Code J – 25 tagged leasing of fast intervention for enforcement purposes.”
Vanguard Maritime Report could not ascertain the locations of these boats even after a visit to the Lagos – Badagry axis Offshore, an indication that these boats have never been there.
Despite the huge amount of money spent on rental of fast intervention boats Nigeria as at last quarter was leading the piracy and armed robbery at sea chart of the International Maritime Bureau, IMB, 2020 report.
An Assistant Director who spoke on condition of anonymity said these boats do not exist anywhere adding that request for the fund to rent fast intervention boats is a big fraud that has been going on for some time.
A former Director of Shipping development in the agency who also refused to have his name mentioned for fear of being killed by the cabal behind the fraud also said that the Security Fast Intervention is a big scam between certain people within and outside NIMASA.
The former Director explained that the development is so bad that these so called contractors will offer services to oil companies and bill NIMASA for such services.
The former Director said: “They were using these Memos to clear monies; I knew this was going on during Dakuku’s time. It is not surprising that this scam may be the reason for the delay of the Deep Blue Sea project.
“These boats will not work but they will come to NIMASA to raise bills as if they work for NIMASA. It is an organized crime that involves a lot of people and this thing started during Dakuku’s time, this is big scam.
“The maritime industry has entered one chance, it is an ongoing scam and it high level. The so called boats do exist, they all know what they are doing even the Nigerian Navy is complicit.”
Similarly, the former Executive Director, Operations, Engr. Rotimi Fashakin, said that he was aware of the contract but denied having a hand in the contract.
Fashakin however debunked the fact that they were no boats but added that the contractors were not playing by the terms and conditions of the said contracts.
He disclosed that at a time, the contractors by-passed his office and went straight to the office of the Director General to process and perfect their documentations for payments.
He explained that he tried to put some level of strict rules in place to ensure that the contractors do their jobs within the terms and conditions.
He said: ”The contractors’ documents passed through my table to ascertain the level of jobs done every month
“Let me tell, there were boats but there were also problems because some of the contractors were not adhering to the terms of the contracts and because it was a man-know-man kind of contracts.
:”I did not get anything from any contractor to bend the rules, no you will not get into that with me. What I did was put a process in place whereby the Head of Maritime Safety Capt Sunday Umoren and Head of Shipping development Mr. Ogadi ensured that their signatures were on the document to say that indeed there were intervention boats.
“I can tell this to anybody’s face that none of the contractors came from me and a stage, the contractors started by-passing my office and going straight to the Director General’s office because they saw the process in my office as too strict.