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Foreign shippers’ may pullout of Nigeria soon as pirates onslaughts deepen on waterways
Chances of possible collapse of Nigeria’s maritime industry are becoming glaring considering the body language of leading international shipping companies who had before now, been spending fortunes just to pass freely within the territorial waterways of Nigeria.
Already, the shipping conglomerates had been spending well over N14b on a yearly basis to enter or leave Nigeria waters with or without cargoes and some of them seem to have become tired of such payments to private security escorts who make way for their ships to sail freely without attacks on their way to or out of Nigeria.
Besides, the feelings of the shippers have been observed by leading stakeholders in the maritime sector.
Just last month, suspected pirates struck on Saturday April 21, 2018, kidnapped 12 crew members on a Dutch cargo ship off the coast of Nigeria.
The attack occurred early in the morning as the vessel was nearing the Port Harcourt, port in Nigeria.
The ship owner, ForestWave Navigation, confirmed that 12 of 14 crew members on board their general cargo ship FWN Rapide were taken from the vessel. The two remaining crew members were reported safe with the vessel allegedly moved to a secure location.
According to the chairman, (Tin Can Port chapter), International Freight Forwarders Association (IFFA), Chief Patrick Chukwu, “if the insecurity in Nigeria waterways persists, foreign vessels will avoid Nigeria and that will reduce throughput and development will be affected”.
He said “It beats my imagination how the president can wake up and approve such a security contract without recourse to the National Assembly and things will move on as usual. There is a separation of powers but people do what they want. My question is, how can they continue to do this? What will be the outcome?
If the insecurity persists, foreign vessels will decide to go to neighbouring countries and that will reduce our throughput and economic sabotage will thrive. Development will reduce and investors will leave.
Whereas he calls on the government to overhaul the maritime security architecture with the aim of injecting fresh brains, President of the National Council of Managing Directors of Customs Licensed Customs Agents (NCMDLCA), Lucky Amiwero agreed that constant security threats on Nigerian waters will cause surcharge on freights and people will be discouraged to sail Nigerian waters.
in an interview, he averred that “The problem of Nigerian waterways is that our waterways should be safe because if it is not safe, it will attract some surcharge. The freight will be high and it will discourage people from bringing ships into the country. So, we must make sure that our waterways are safe, free from pirate attacks.
“If they (pirates) are allowed to continue with their operations people will declare our zone a war zone and apply surcharge on most of the freights. They (government) should try as much as possible to make the waterways safe. That is the issue of the navy and in conjunction with NIMASA.
Business Hilights recalls that the Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, had informed Nigerians that the Federal Government approved the award of a security contract valued at $195 million (about N60 billion) to an Israeli firm, HLSI Security Systems and Technologies, to procure security equipment and train Nigerian security personnel to tackle crimes on the nation’s waterways.
Even though the deal was done without recourse to the National Assembly, Amaechi explained that the agreement became imperative given the high charges shipping firms pay for security escort on Nigerian waterways, adding that due to insecurity on the nation’s waterways, the maritime sector spends $18 million on a yearly basis in addition to high war risk insurance payable by shippers to do business on the waters.