By Adegboyega Oni
The management of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL) has debunked the claim by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that its security service operations in the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) on the nation’s sea have constituted a security threat to the national security and increase in costs of doing business in the nation’s seaport in Lagos.
OMS Limited stated this while reacting to a statement credited to the Managing Director of Nigerian Ports Authority, Hadiza Bala Usman, in a national daily that its operations were inimical to national security and that it did not recognize OMS Limited.
The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, had notified the Nigerian Navy of its decision to dismantle the SAA security arrangement and directed shipping lines to stop paying fees of $2000 on the first day and $1500 every other day being charged by OMS onboard their vessels.
She noted that it is the NPA’s responsibility to provide security for vessels and crews at the ports and at the anchorage and that a letter had been written to the Nigerian Navy to stop the operations.
According to Usman, ‘’It is established that vessels are directed and regulated to this facility by OMSL, who NPA does not have contractual agreement or other with. However, the Navy has a memorandum of understanding with OMSL and is providing security to the anchorage. The continued operation of this facility by a private entity could pose security threat to the nation.
The NPA boss noted that a new framework, nearing conclusion, is being put in place to be managed by NPA in collaboration with Navy and other government agencies. ‘’The safe anchorage has been removed, and we would work with the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA to secure the anchorage. Any attempt to create any insecurity, to justify the establishment of the safe anchorage area, would not be accepted.’’
The SAA is a dedicated anchor port in the sea for ships that are waiting to berth in the Lagos seaports at Apapa and Tin Can Island. It is operated on behalf of the Navy.
Justifying its operations, OMS Limited noted that its collaboration with the Navy has contributed to the improved security and tranquility enjoyed offshore Lagos harbour approaches, through provision of platforms and logistics support that enabled maintenance of the 24/7/365 presence at sea necessary to deter the criminal elements.
Captains of vessels calling at Lagos ports, according to OMS Limited, have praised the impact of the SAA security arrangement on their ships and cargo, maintaining that its operations have never constituted a threat to national security in any form or increase in cost of shipping.
According to OMS Limited, ”Our attention has been drawn to some article in ThisDay newspapers of 20 October 2019, quoting statements and opinions on the operations of the SAA purported to have been articulated by MD NPA; and several other publications in recent times casting aspersions on the integrity of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL).
‘’While we do not intend to join issues with anyone seeking to disparage our company on the pages of newspapers for ulterior motives, we wish to state that OMSL is a responsible and professionally run organisation that has enviable track-record of contributing immensely and positively to the economy of the nation, working closely with the Nigerian Navy. This collaboration has contributed to the improved security and tranquility enjoyed today offshore Lagos harbour approaches, through provision of platforms and logistics support that enabled maintenance of the 24/7/365 presence at sea necessary to deter the criminal elements. This has not only given captains of vessels making port calls to Lagos so much peace and comfort, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has also downgraded the High Risk Area (HRA) classification for Lagos waters twice recently as a result of the cooperation. All these positive results are achieved at no cost to government.
‘’Therefore, anybody seeking to give the impression that SAA operations constitute a threat to national security simply lacks understanding of the real situation or is clearly and mischievously spreading falsehood deliberately for personal agenda. It is in the light of these that the pronouncements being credited to NPA in this context, are seen as insensitive to patriotic contributions of honest Nigerians or malicious to criminalize the efforts in order to justify scrapping of a credible and working security solution.
‘’We wish to enjoin the general public to please disregard the innuendos and seek clarification from the rightful authority on the establishment and operations of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA).’’