By Adegboyega Oni
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has no right or power to disown or stop the Nigerian security firms approved by the Nigerian Navy from providing security/safety services for vessels within the Secured Anchorage Area (SAA) on the nation’s sea as the area is out of the port nautical miles, noted a stakeholder operating in the area.
The secured anchorage area is a dedicated anchor port for ships that are waiting to berth in ports in Lagos. The security firms, operating within the area, are licensed by the Nigerian Navy to provide security for ships at the anchorage against sea robbers and pirates.
NPA in Lagos last week disowned the security services within the area and directed shipping lines to stop patronizing the area, saying its sole responsibility to provide security for vessels within the port anchorage.
It directed that shipping lines should stop paying $2000 on the first day and $1500 every other day being charged by firms in the zone onboard their vessels. It noted that it is partnering with the Nigerian Navy to with a view to strengthening waterfront security and the anchorage.
According to the NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala Usman, ‘’ It is the NPA’s responsibility to provide security of vessels at the ports and at the anchorage
‘’Today (last Thursday), marine notice has been issued. There is no longer any anchorage addressed as ‘Safe Anchorage’. We are aware that $2000 is being charged on the first day and every other subsequent day is $1500, we know that is increasing and that would not exist anymore from today.
‘’To provide anchorage is NPA’s responsibility and the Navy has been in collaboration with us to ensure every anchorage of NPA is safe. The National Security Adviser and the Chief of Naval Staff are collaborating with us.’’
The stakeholder, who pleaded that his name should not be mentioned while speaking to PortNews, noted that the secured anchorage area where these firms operate is not within the port zone and NPA has no power to proscribe or disown their activities as illegal as they were empowered legally by the Nigerian Navy, a government agency and the custodian of the nation’s sea, to provide safety and security services within the area for ocean-going vessels.
He noted that NPA was just dabbling into an area that is out of its jurisdiction while it has failed to perform its core responsibilities of channel dredging and wreck removal which has become a clog in the wheel of development in the nation’s shipping industry.
According to him, the SAA is the creation of the Nigerian Navy designed to provide security solution on the nation’s sea and would be irresponsible for NPA to dismantle the platform which has helped to boost safety and security on the nation’s sea.
‘’We are working in support of the Nigerian Navy; I don’t see how a government agency will pronounce organizations working with the Navy illegal. Who is the custodian of the sea? Is it NPA or the Navy? It is the Navy empowered by the constitution. NPA has abandoned its core responsibilities. NPA has failed to clear all the wrecks that littered the waterways as Port Harcourt Port channel has not been dredged for so many years. Is it doing the right? What has it done it terms of safety and security on the sea? It cannot be dismantling a security structure put in place by the Navy whereas it has not provided an alternative. This is just an abuse of power,’’ he submitted.