A former National President of the Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Prince Olayiwola Shittu has faulted the comments by the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi blaming stakeholders for doing nothing to stop an individual who he claimed is exploiting the maritime industry by setting up a Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) against global practices.
It will be recalled that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi had registered his displeasure with continuous patronage of Secure Anchorage Area of the maritime space.
According to the Minister, an individual had sought to exploit the industry by collecting $1200 daily for Secure Anchorage in the country from ships calling on Lagos ports.
The Minister who made this revelation while delivering a virtual keynote address at the 2020 World Maritime Day Celebration held at Eko Hotel and Suites in Lagos last stated that the issue was quite unsettling.
According to him, “There is a crisis in the Maritime sector. The crisis is on the issue of security. Today, we have a single individual partnering with the military that is the collecting $1,200 to the detriment of shipping companies. That one individual is still managing the business with support of other institutions.”
He accused stakeholders of doing nothing to the individual, stressing that no one other than the Minister had the right to set up a secure anchorage area.
In his words, “The stakeholders are doing nothing to the individual and he is become so rich as a result of exploiting the industry. We are saying this is the time to say enough is enough. No individual has right to collect money. The Nigerian Ports Authority Act does not allow any other person than the Minister of Transportation to set up Secure Anchorage Area.”
However, speaking at the occasion of the World Maritime Day celebration organized in Lagos on Friday by the Mission to Seafarers in collaboration with the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) Shittu noted that the Minister was going back to the stakeholders and at the same time doing as if that contract had a problem.
While admitting that “we have lost it” he added, “no wonder some agencies in the maritime industry can never get anything done because of political consideration.”
He recalled that during the time of the late former Minister of Transport, Chief Ojo Maduekwe, stakeholders had the same battle over port concession which according to him, had become an albatross today with all the lock jam adding that today, concession was not working.
“How can the Honourable Minister tell us that private initiative super cedes the interest of the federal government? Something is wrong and I want to appeal to us that we should not keep quiet; we should be calling them out. Every opportunity you have even as Master Mariners, please speak to the press, let them hear your voice. This is very unbecoming.
“Is the government behind NPA, its own agency or behind a contractor that will be sharing money to them somewhere? It is unfortunate and please we should not relent in criticizing that Minister because since his tenure, we have had so many negative returns on maritime. I have never even seen the maritime advance more than he came in and he is still going to be there till 2023! It is sad!!”
Recall that In February 2020, the Minister suspended the Secure Anchorage Area contract as according to him, it was illegal to create anchorage for purposes of providing security.
The Secure Anchorage Area is an area outside the Lagos port that the Nigerian Navy, with a private company, has defined as a secure place where vessels can anchor safely from the threat of pirate attack.
The secure anchorage area was in contention between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the Ocean Marine Services Limited, who were providing security at the anchorage.
The NPA dismantled the Secure Anchorage Area operated by OMSL over security concerns.
It insisted that provision of security in the nation’s waters is not a business venture, but a constitutional responsibility of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police.
Photo: Former ANLCA National President, Prince Olayiwola Shittu.
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