*NPA, NIMET in MoU
Lagos — With growing security concerns across Nigeria, some maritime experts have revealed the malpractices and neglects that are currently undermining government revenue as well as security services in the maritime sector.
Apparently against this backdrop, fueled by the incessant and violent damage done to vessels as a result of frequent sea swells (violent waves) and the inability of Nigeria to have accurate weather forecast, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, is collaborating with the Nigeria Meteorological Agency, NIMET, to provide accurate weather forecast for safe navigation.
Confirming the collaboration, Captain Ihenacho Ebubeogu, a former General Manager, Marine and Operation at the NPA, now in charge of security, said that the partnership started in 2017 adding that he could not give an update on the collaboration but referred this reporter to the Marine Department of the NPA.
A source close to the office of the Managing Director of the NPA, Ms. Hadiza Bala Usman, said that a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, has been signed by both agencies.
The MoU, we gathered is a work in progress.
It was also gathered that the collaboration between NPA and NIMET will see the establishment of some coastal meteorological stations across the country.
It was also gathered that both agencies have been meeting towards enhancing Nigeria weather forecast to users of meteorological information.
Recently due to inaccurate meteorological data some vessels like ‘M. T Nwobisa’ was washed ashore in the Niger Delta region.
Speaking on the development, Engr Akin Olaniyan, Managing Director of International Naval Survey Bureau, INSB, a vessel classification and survey firm in Lagos, said that Nigeria ought to have mastered the art of accurate weather forecast having been a maritime nation for more than 70 years.
According to him, the sourcing meteorological data abroad is a failure of the nation’s maritime authorities.
He stated: “By now, we should have mastered the sea more than we are doing. Our safety departments should have taken advantage of emerging technologies to predict weather conditions so as to warn all vessels within her territories and particularly Nigerian flagged vessels.
“Meteorological services can be deployed via water buoys to predict weather conditions. This is not rocket science. It is the duty of the flag administration to protect her vessels from such natural disasters or at the least warn of an impending situation.
“This is the hallmark of a developed administration and not its representation at the IMO.”
But speaking on the development, Dr.Felix Ale, spokesman of the National Airspace Research Development Agency, NASRDA, disclosed that the Agency has the capability to provide accurate weather forecast for use by any agency in Nigeria.
Ale said that weather reports are sent to relevant government agencies as frequently as possible adding that there was no need for officials of government to go abroad for this purpose.
However, he added that some officials of government who allege the inability of Nigeria to give accurate meteorological data to frequently travel abroad with fat estacodes.
He explained that most times, officials of government engages foreign companies to source meteorological information for Nigeria and these foreign firms get this information from NASRDA and sell to these officials of government.
Ale stated: “Officials of government agencies go abroad to engage foreign companies to source meteorological reports on Nigeria. These foreign firms, in turn, come to NASRDA to source this information and sell to these officials.
Some of these officials do this because of the estacodes they get when they travel abroad. They should stop this idea of running abroad for satellite data information when these data are available in Nigeria.’’
Already, NARSDA has entered into a Joint Venture with Atlantic Factorial to provide a high-resolution image of activities on the waters.
Confirming the Joint Venture, Managing Director of Atlantic Factorial, Mr. Leke Oyewole, said that massive leakages have been observed in the maritime sector occasioned by inadequate surveillance of the maritime domain, adding that NPA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, are not paid revenues due to them because of these trade infractions.
According to Oyewole, most of the International Oil Companies, IOCs, source meteorological data from abroad and deduct the cost of sourcing this information from their operating cost before declaring profit to the Federal government.
He said: “We currently boast of the largest constellation of satellites (240 +), belonging to our partners and over 100 ground stations globally.
“Our capability cuts across sub-meter resolution imagery of any location on the planet (72cm, not surpassed by any other company worldwide), maritime, aviation, meteorology and radiofrequency analytics.
“In recent years, the need to monitor our highways, bushes, remote communities, towns, and cities has come to the fore.
“We can provide for the government, daily surveillance reports detailed by radio frequency communications and high-resolution imagery with short videos of suspected locations within the entire expanse of Nigeria for security action.
“Similarly, we have observed massive leakages in the maritime sector occasioned inadequate surveillance of the maritime domain; Mother ships that import petroleum products to Nigeria with official foreign exchange, either import through neighbouring countries or when they come to Nigeria, NPA / NIMASA are not paid revenues due to them because these ships don’t get to the ports by reason of their size.
“We have unreported exports of petroleum products by ship-to-ship transfer offshore, products that never got to the ports are taken directly to bunker rigs offshore, quantity under-declarations, crude oil theft, and so on, are some of the anomalies in the coast.
“Our technology can track all ships globally per second/24 hours. Superior to the existing technology in Nigeria is the fact that we also unveil dark ships and we can point all ships evading payments to NPA, NIMASA, NNPC, and the Customs.
‘‘Automation and integration procedures and processes of all maritime agencies on a platform will enable Nigerians to clear their cargo from homes and offices without going to the ports.
“This will minimize corruption and decongest the ports.
‘‘In the aviation sector, we not only provide complete and total coverage of Nigeria with all aviation weather requirements, we track all aircraft for the number of hours in the air since the last maintenance to keep track of next due maintenance and for NAMA to act.
“Our meteorological services will surely reduce operational costs of NIMET by 50% and increase its IGR (Internally Generated Revenue) by 200%. We cover maritime meteorology, aviation from 70km vertically (adjudged to be the best globally) and provide agricultural services at global best.
“We provide a seven-day advance forecast to allow enough time to prepare for severe weather conditions.
‘‘The partnership we enjoy with HawkEye 360 (presently the only commercial company worldwide in the business of satellite radio frequency analytics) affords us the ability to detect and independently geo-locate sources of radiofrequency with an accuracy of less than 1km world over.”
He also said that the apparent lack of capacity by NIMET, which is the official meteorological agency, and the inability of NIMASA to outsource this service is costing the country colossal losses in the shipping sector
Efforts to get comments from the NIMET was futile as calls and text messages to the phone of Engr Tokunbo Okulaja, an official of the agency were not answered.
Commenting on the development, the former hydrographer of the NPA, Mr. Gbenga Omotosho said that meteorology and hydrography cannot work without each other adding that vessels need both hydrographical and meteorological information for safe navigation.
Omotosho explained that hydrographers also train as meteorologists.
He said: “The strength of water is greater than the one on the land, the vessels need this information for safe navigation.”