Nigeria votes $186m to combat maritime crime
.Deploys three war ships, three aircrafts, 12 vessels, 20 amphibious cars against piracy
Determined to revive the maritime sector through a guaranteed secured waterways, President Muhammadu Buhari has approved $186 million (about N56.9 billion) to procure machineries and fully combat maritime crimes.
And to restore peace into the business of shipping, the Federal Government yesterday said it plans to acquire three new ready-for-war ships, three aircrafts, 12 vessels and 20 amphibious vehicles to combat the menace of piracy in the Gulf of Guinea.
The Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, who disclosed this yesterday at the stakeholders’ conference organised by The Nation in collaboration with the Ministry of Transportation in Lagos, emphasized that the Federal Government is reforming the sector but the dividends will not be immediate, it will manifest gradually.
“The government is working on piracy. The president has approved an architecture plan of about $886 million dollars to acquire three helicopters, three aircrafts, three big ships ready for war, 12 vessels, and 20 amphibious cars. In the next three months you will see them operating, so by the time we finish, you see that the change is coming. Change is not talk about, it is felt, so you should give us time to fix it,” he said.
According to Amaechi, Nigeria cannot achieve the world-class ports status now, “because we still have a long way to go. It will take us some time, but we have started the work towards it now.”
On reviving the railways, Amaechi said the Federal Government is expecting the arrival of 20 new locomotives by May 29, 2017, adding that these facilities would gradually revive the narrow gauge lines.
The Executive Secretary and Chief Executive Officer, Nigerian Shippers Council, Hassan Bello, stressed the need to fast track the reforms in the maritime sector, adding that Nigerian ports have remained the costliest in the West African region.
Besides, he said the key performance indices showed that the nation is not doing well in the shipping business.
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, acknowledged that the maritime sector, an essential component of the transportation system, is crucial for wealth creation.