Threats on waterways killing competitiveness of Nigerian ports—Bello
The Executive Secretary of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC), Barr Hassan Bello, has opened up on the key factor frustrating the performance of leading Nigerian seaports, saying incidence of brutal pirates’ attacks along the nation’s territorial waters cannot be unconnected.
Giving insights during a recent courtesy visit to the office of the Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral, Ibok –Ete Ibas in Abuja, he revealed that in the Niger Delta, there were 88 piracy attacks on ships entering Nigeria in the space of one year.
According to him, pirates’ attacks and associated security threats on the nation’s waterways were derailing the competitiveness and comparative advantages of Nigerian ports.
Bello, who was quick to observe that the security threat is impacting negatively on Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, disclosed that majority of the shipping companies operating in Nigeria have been complaining that they have been forced to provide their own security at huge costs while bringing goods to Nigeria.
The Shippers’ Council boss who failed to make any reference to any impact of the controversial Israeli security firm contract on Nigeria’s waters, also made it clear that why the prices of imported goods have remained high is because costs incurred by the shipping companies were usually passed on to the shippers who add up same to goods in the market.
Bello confessed before the Naval chief that “We have received various complaints from the shipping companies who have been forced to provide their own security to escort their vessels to the port (especially at the eastern ports).
“In spite of their efforts, between 2017 and 2018, there have been 88 attacks in the Niger Delta. For instance, 2016 to 2018, there were 10,673 vessels’ calls at the ports with gross registered tonnage of over 329 million. However, one of the major challenges in the maritime sector is security,” he added.
However, on the alternative, he appealed for a synergy with Navy that will set up a platform strategically offshore with guards transferred to each vessel and then dropped off such that there was always armed naval security presence from about 80 nautical miles off Bonny fairway bouy, up to Onne in Rivers State.
In response, the Naval chief assured that his outfit will work out a strategic security architecture that will tame piracy on Nigerian waters very soon.