The Nigerian Navy and Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) are intensifying efforts to protect, interdict, and deter threats around vessels anchored in the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA), off the coast of Lagos. Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, announced this in Lagos during a courtesy visit by the Shipping Association of Nigeria (SAN).
Jamoh said the new security effort was encapsulated in the total deployment of assets under the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, also called the Deep Blue Project. The deployment is on-going with the primary aim of providing security in Nigerian waters and the Gulf of Guinea and tackling the security challenges encumbering the shipping business in the area.
“We are deploying high-tech assets under the Deep Blue Project to not only deal with piracy and armed robbery in our territorial waters frontally, but also respond to the increasing sophistication of these maritime crimes,” Jamoh stated. “The Nigerian Navy and NIMASA are partnering to ensure a high level of security in our waters. We are tying up all loose ends and very soon everything would become manifest and clear to stakeholders and operators.”
The DG, who spoke in response to security concerns raised by SAN following the cancellation of the SAA contract by President Muhammadu Buhari and transfer of the responsibility for the area’s protection to NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy, said there was no security vacuum in Nigerian waters.
According to Jamoh, “I can assure you that there is no security vacuum in our waters. From what I know, the SAA is more protected than ever before. The Nigerian Navy has recently deployed 14 warships to enhance security in the area and the wider maritime domain. Other assets, including Special Mission Vessels, interceptor boats, and Special Mission Aircraft, are also being deployed under the Deep Blue Project.
“Besides, there is an emergency mobile line for any vessel in distress in our waters, +2348030685167, and the NIMASA emergency response room can be reached on Channel 16 of the Very High Frequency (VHF) radio channel.”
He added, “The menace of maritime insecurity is an age-long challenge in the industry, and government is doing its best within the available resources to address the issues, with continuous patrols by dedicated vessels to the Secure Anchorage Area. We appeal for a healthy working relationship and further deliberations are welcome.”
He said NIMASA was networking with international bodies, such as INTERTANKO and INTERCARGO, to ensure security in the Gulf of Guinea, with the Yaoundé-based International Coordination Centre (ICC) also playing a central role.
The DG told stakeholders to always contact the Command, Control, Computer Communication and intelligence (C4i) centre located at the NIMASA-owned Nigerian Maritime Resource Development Centre (NMRDC), Kirikiri, in Lagos, for necessary actions under the Suppression of Piracy and other Maritime Offences (SPOMO) Act.
The spokesperson for the group and Managing Director of Mediterranean Shipping Company, Andrew Lynch, had urged the NIMASA management to intensify measures to maintain security in the SAA.
Representatives of major shipping lines operating in Nigeria, who attended the meeting, included the Managing Director of Grimaldi Nigeria, Ascanio Russo, and Managing Director of CUA- shipping, Haul Odeyer. Maersk Nigeria and GAC also had representation at the meeting.