OrderPaperToday – Stakeholders at a public hearing of the House of Representatives ad-hoc committee to “determine why the Warri, Port Harcourt, Calabar, Onne, and Onitsha Inland ports complexes are not being put to use to maximal use” have identified corruption and inter-agency rivalry as some of the nagging problems in the maritime sector.
This is as a member of the committee, Mr. Ossy Prestige (APGA, Abia) set the tone for discussions by accusing the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMSA) and the Nigeria Navy of failure carrying out responsibilities of securing the waterways in the country despite receiving huge sum of monies yearly.
Mr. Prestige blamed the agencies for failure to curb the challenges of piracy and insecurity in the waterways, saying “we know that NIMASA has been collecting billions of dollars to secure our water ways and the Navy is also paid several billions to secure our water ways as well. Nigerians pays billions of naira to private security to accompany their ships whereas billions of naira is spent on these security agencies to secure the water ways.”
On his part, Mr. Victor Kolade (PDP, Ondo) blamed the issue of insecurity in the various ports on inter-agency rivalry, saying “inter-agency cooperation is also an issue why agencies of government have not been cooperating with each other to secure our water ways.”
The Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Transport, Mr. Salihu Zakary, said he was in total agreement with the suggestion of the committee on cooperation amongst the various agencies saddled with the responsibilities of securing the country’s waterways.
He however noted that the issue has to be addressed through legislation as “most of these issues can not be resolved just here; again we need the National Assembly to also step in and address these issues. The ministry has it own limitations. Another question is, is the Navy under the ministry? no. Though, the ministry would try to bring these agencies together because of the over lap in the acts.”
In response, the representative of the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibrahim Adaji, said the security body has secured six surveillance boats but need more sophisticated equipment in order to tackle the insecurity of the waterways in the eastern zone, stressing that “the Nigeria Navy is living up to its responsibility.”
Nonetheless, chairman of the Technical Committee of Ship Owners Association, Mr. Lucky Akhiwu, said lack of political will and corruption were the primary reasons why eastern ports were not functional and not security as been projected by the regulatory agencies.