- Stakeholders unimpressed!
- As Philippine Forces Rescue Cargo Ship from Pirates
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Nigerian Navy (NN) on Wednesday signed a reviewed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) aimed at keeping the nation’s territorial waters safer for ship navigation.
The MoU came, even as industry watchers evaluated the one signed earlier, with some noting that there had been unrestrained crude oil theft, despite a subsisting MoU.
But the Chief of Naval Staff (CNS), Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ibas thinks otherwise, as he stressed that the review and the signing of a new MoU had become imperative because of the growing importance of the nation’s maritime domain.
Specifically, Ibas is targeting harnessing the overall gains of information sharing, even as he expressed an optimism that intelligence, facility and information sharing would go a long way in assisting the service to carry out its professional responsibilities.
Ibas believed that the first MoU that was signed between the two organisations yielded a remarkable achievement; highlighting this as a further reason, necessitating the review of the MoU to continue to work together to protect the nation’s assets, particularly the crude oil, from thieves and other criminals.
He acknowledged that the first quarter of 2016 actually witnessed an unprecedented high rate of crime in the nation’s maritime domain but insisted that due to the collaboration of the two organisations, the crime was drastically reduced.
Ibas maintained that the service needed more support from sister agencies to enable it carry out its professional responsibility of safeguarding the nation’s maritime domain and other responsibilities.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Dakuku Peterside, however hailed the signing of the MoU, expressing delight that it would avail the two organisations with yet another opportunity to continue to safeguard the nation’s assets.
Peterside said the major responsibility of NIMASA was to safeguard the maritime domain and rid it of any illegal activities and making the environment conducive for legal activities.
According to Dakuku, the MoU would further strengthen the Navy to ensure the enhanced safety of vessels in the nation’s water ways.
“Over the years, we have made tremendous achievements, especially in area of safety of vessels.
“Crime rate has dropped tremendously, and we are working in a very close relationship with the NN in achieving such feat,” he said, stressing that the MoU would heighten the expectations of Nigerians, especially the vessels owners with the hope that their vessels would be safer.
But industry watchers were however not particularly impressed with the newly signed MoU, as some noted that until the Navy is adequately equipped, in the area platforms and aircrafts, any MoU would remain a cosmetic in content.
“If the Nigerian Navy is adequately equipped, the way they ought to be, do you think they would need any MoU, before they would perform their statutory roles?” asked Tony Emeordi, noting that even the agency had neither been too faithful, nor fair to the Navy, in the provision of equipment the Navy needs, to be effective.
Yet, an importer who pleaded for anonymity wondered why piracy and oil theft had soared, unabated, despite the orchestrated accord between the duo between 2015 and 2016.
“The new MoU is good. But, it might not alter the balance of terror, which presently tilt in favour of those committing crimes in the nation’s waters! , the stakeholder concluded.
In the meantime, the Philippine Coast Guard and Navy have thwarted a pirate attack on a freighter off Zamboanga del Norte, the Philippines, the Coast Guard confirmed to World Maritime News.
The attack occurred in the morning hours of April 18, local media cited Alvin Dagalea, Zamboanga Coast Guard Station Commander, as saying.
The cargo vessel, M/V Dona Anabelle, was reportedly sailing to Zamboanga from Iloilo when armed attackers approached on two motorboats and started firing at the cargo ship. The freighter’s crew managed to send a distress call that was picked up by the security forces that sent a navy ship to the scene.
Having seen the security forces approaching, the gunmen aborted their attempts to board the vessel and fled the scene.
There were no injuries reported.
The cargo ship continued its voyage to Zamboanga escorted by the security forces’ ships.
Additional report from World Maritime News