The Nigerian Merchant Navy Officers and Water Transport Senior Staff Association has blamed the rising insecurity on the nation’s waters on lack of employment for the teeming youths of this country as well as the government policy.
The National President of the association, Engr. Matthew Alalade who disclosed this in a chat with newsmen in Lagos recently noted that government’s policy banning the importation of some items that were being imported before into this country was responsible for high rate of smuggling through the nation’s borders into the country.
He observed that when government banned most of the import items that were being imported before and what it banned was still coming in through the land borders with the neighbouring countries, there was tendency that people who used to get jobs from those importations had no jobs anymore which in turn could motivate them to go into sea robbery.
“The policy is strongly affecting our import trade likewise the vessels now go to neighbouring countries. That is why there is no work in Nigeria here, they go to the neighbouring countries and discharge their cargoes there and these things still come into the country.
“Secondly, government too should provide job opportunity for the teeming youths so that an idle hand will not find evil to be doing. But if you ban this and ban that and the people have nothing to do, they may resolve to go into other activities that they should not involve themselves in to undermine the shipping companies for them not to come to Nigeria”, he said.
He however alleged that it was those who had experience as well as those who had been laid off with nothing to do that involved themselves in piracy adding that novices cannot just go onboard the ship as it was a risky job.
“So, it is a professional who knows the terms and conditions that would go onboard the vessel and cause havoc on those vessels. But I strongly believe that government policy too has been affecting influx of ships into our waters”, he said.
He further stated that the exchange rate was another factor that deterred investors in shipping sector from coming to Nigeria saying that this was so as investors who would want to go into ship building and ship repair would require foreign exchange to procure most of the equipment needed to carry on ship building and repair.
In his words, “So, instead of investors coming to Nigeria under the prevailing exchange rate, he would prefer to go to the neighbouring countries where the exchange rate is favourable to him. So it has a lot of factors.
He therefore urged the federal government to create an enabling environment for shipping business to thrive in Nigeria by creating jobs for the teeming youths of the Nigeria so as to drastically reduce the menace of piracy and smuggling.
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