You will recall a newspaper report released on the 20th of October 2019 with the headline: “Citing Insecurity NPA Cancels $133.28m SAA Fees” the said safe Anchorage Area.
According to MD of NPA
- An Anchorage Area is an integral part of NPA statutory responsibility, while NIMASA, Marine Police and Nigerian Navy ensure safe and secure Nigeria territorial waters.
- The Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) established by OMSL is located within the port limit, which should be strictly under the management and control of the NPA.
- Vessels are directed and regulated to this facility by OMSL, who NPA does not have contractual agreement or other with.
- The continued operation of this facility by a private entity could pose security threat to the nation.
- The operations of SAA added up to high cost for vessels coming to Nigeria through the charge of $1,500 per vessel per day.
- Safe anchorage has been removed, and we would work with the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA to secure the anchorage.
In their response, Ocean Marine solution Limited refutes the assertion of the NPA and submitted 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.
- Their collaboration with Nigerian Navy has contributed to the improved security and tranquility enjoyed today offshore Lagos harbour approaches.
- Their operation has not only given captains of vessels making port calls to Lagos so much peace and comfort, it has also made the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) to downgrade the High Risk Area (HRA) classification for Lagos waters twice recently
- That 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.
The SAA is located 10 nautical miles southwest from the entrance to Lagos Port Channel and provides round-the clock armed protection for vessels wishing to anchor safely or who are waiting to berth within the Port. It also offers the option of dedicated security for STS operations in the adjacent NPA designated STS zone.
Offshore Lagos, the Nigerian Navy does not support the use of armed guards onboard commercial vessels and the Nigerian Marine Police have no jurisdiction outside of the inland waterways, ports and harbours.
The SAA project was conceptualized to provide an auditable, credible and legally compliant solution to piracy in the area following demands from ship-owners and charterers for dedicated 24/7 protection, and according to report, The SAA has enjoyed 100% success against piracy since its inception in May 2013.
Generally, the Nigerian Navy by law is responsible for the naval defence of the country; according to Navy Act of 1964, likewise under the Armed Forces Act, the Nigerian navy is expected to perform the role of coast guard, assisting in the enforcement of customs laws, enforcing and assisting in coordinating the enforcement of national and international maritime laws ascribed or acceded to by Nigeria; meanwhile, by section 22(1)(p) of NIMASA Act the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency is saddled with the responsibility of providing Maritime Security.
It is very evident by the reading of section 7(d)(g)and( k) of NPA Act that the position of the safe Anchorage Area remains the jurisdiction of Nigerian Port Authority and can exercise authority over same, having said that, we must understand that in enforcing the said authority, the law expect a collaboration with other relevant agencies of government, i.e. the Nigerian Navy and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety agency.
According to the Newspaper report, the Nigerian Port Authority has stated that “…the patrol boat, NNS Dorina P101, as mother vessel, and the interceptor vessels, NNS Agede P258 and NNS Torie P259, were all purchased by it for the Nigerian Navy to patrol the anchorage”
We must understand this is coming up after the successful hosting of Global Maritime Security Conference by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and safety Agency in Abuja, early this month and the conference has been applauded by the majority of the stakeholders in the Maritime industry as a meaningful approach to end insecurity in the Gulf of guinea and on Nigerian waters. We are also aware of some of the reforms executed by the leadership of the present Managing Director of Nigerian Port authority particularly in the area of Security at the Nigerian ports.
It is on this backdrop that we submit here that the Nigerian Port authority should initiate an interagency meeting and work out a modality on how to resolve this pressing challenge in order not to draw back the ongoing security solution on Nigerian waters, likewise, knowing full well that majority of the vessels coming to Nigerian ports are foreign vessel, in order not to cause confusion, we advise that a joint communiqué should be issued to all vessel transiting and coming to the Nigerian ports, stating the resolution of Nigeria Port Authority and other relevant agencies of government on SAA.
It was reported that the Nigerian Navy has a Memorandum of Understanding with Ocean Marine solution Limited (OMSL) and is providing security to the anchorage, whatever may be the content of the Memorandum of understanding, it will be in the best interest of the Nation for the parties to look into same and forge an amicable resolution.