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The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Ameachi has explained the nature of the maritime security and surveillance agreement sealed with an unnamed Israeli firm.
In an interview in Lagos, he said government has approved the security contract valued at $195 million awarded to an Israeli firm (name with held) to procure security equipment and assist in training Nigerian security personnel in tracking and tackling sea crime along the nation’s waterways.
The Minister further revealed that the contract will commence in December to last for a period of three years after which the company will handover to Nigerian security personnel.
According to him, “it is not news that Nigerian maritime domain is still facing security challenges, as more case of attack and kidnappings are recorded this year. These are some of the key reasons why the agreement became imperative given the high charges shipping firms’ pay for security escort on Nigerian waterways.
“One of the burning issues in the maritime sector is security. The Federal Government has contacted an Israeli firm who is going to train our security men. They will buy equipment and dominate Nigeria’s waterways for the next three years.
“Within those three years, the Israeli firm will train our security operatives for them to take over after the expiration of the contract. They are yet to launch because they are still buying the equipment. When you see the equipment on the waterways, people will know they are safe and secured.
“Mr President has kindly approved that, and that is being done through the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA). In the three years, they will train our Navy, our Army and our Police so that we can stop spending money escorting boats and vessels on our waterways.
“Currently, Maersk told me they spend between $15m and $18m annually to those escorting their vessels from one point to another on our waterways. We should be able to deflate that by next year so that people can do their businesses on our waterways without any fear of being attacked or harassed,” he said.
Since this year, payment to private security services escorting loaded ships that are entering or leaving Nigeria has gone up, thus forcing shipping companies to jerk up their charges on importation and exportation of goods.
Continuing, the Minister disclosed that “The Israelis have assured us that after the training of our security operatives, such harassment and attacks on our waterways will not happen again. They even said we should hold them accountable if such harassment persists on our waterways after the training. That is one achievement that has happened under our leadership in the maritime sector,” Minister of transportation said.
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