In order to be able to identify, locate, and monitor all vessels in the nation’s waters, even when those vessels turn off their Automatic Identification System, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), according to its managing director Mohammed Bello-Koko, is in the process of purchasing a Vessel Tracking Service (VTS) (AIS).
Koko made this statement Wednesday in Abuja while briefing State House reporters, stressing that the Authority does not currently have the technology to detect rogue ships when they turn off their AIS.
Bello-Koko claimed that rogue ships that engage in crude oil theft on Nigerian waters escape unreported because they turn off their AIS, citing a recent incident in which an oil tanker eluded arrest in Nigeria after illegally lifting crude oil.
He claims that the agency has just found a certified consultant and has been working with the Nigeria Liquefied and Natural Gas (NLNG) Company to assist with vital detection while seeking to obtain the VTS for roughly ten years.
Furthermore, he promised that the technology will be acquired before the current administration ended.
Recall that Tantita Security Services, a business run by former militant leader Government Ekpemupolo alias Tompolo, received a multibillion-naira contract from the Federal Government to monitor pipelines in August.
Tompolo’s company has presented shocking disclosures about crude oil theft in the Niger Delta region. He claimed that since the operation to stop oil theft on the waterways of Delta and Bayelsa states began, about 58 illicit oil points had been found.
The Onne Port Complex is Nigeria’s fastest-growing port, according to Bello-Koko, who was speaking about the operations of the eastern ports.
He claimed that in addition to exports, the port is now actively used for imports.
He claims that now that Tin Can, Onne, and Calabar’s ports have received ISO certification, Onne has seen a dramatic rise in cargo volume.
In the first half of 2022, the Onne port handled 11,800 metric tonnes of cargo, according to Bello-Koko, who attributed the level of trade to the port’s friendliness to business.
Bello-Koko also expressed concern about the loss of billions of naira to criminals who damage navigational aids like the fairway buoys along the eastern port’s canals.
Fairway buoys, according to him, are the channel markers that direct the movement of ships carrying cargo.
He claims that some miscreants damage the pricey buoys and then sell them as trash, forcing the Authority to spend millions on their replacement.
He claimed that the lack of fairway buoys on the water channel has cost the NPA money.
“We have been to forums where shipping companies would decline to visit Nigerian ports, especially Warri and Calabar due to lack of buoys on the channels. These ships need the buoys to aid their navigation along the channel, and the absence of which could make a vessel go under,” he said.
The NPA leader nevertheless pleaded with port towns to forgo such sabotage, which also has financial costs for the government and negative economic effects on the communities owing to lost revenue.
Additionally, he mentioned that the deployment of the deep blue project asset in the eastern ports, which will start in a couple of weeks, will aid in reducing ship security.
Ha continued by saying that the presence of marine police in the eastern ports has also contributed to a decline in occurrences of piracy and ship hijacking.
The NPA boss mentioned the port’s export operations and mentioned that Onne has an export-processing terminal.
He said that since they had all the necessary tools, know-how, and distribution channels, the terminal operators had built an export-processing terminal and obtained an NPA license for it.
Bello-Koko added that the $100 million terminal extension project at the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT), which is located in Onne port, has improved the terminal’s business operations.
Regarding collaborations, Bello-Koko revealed that the authority was assisting the federal government’s efforts to diversify by collaborating with the Nigerian Export Promotion Council (NEPC).
In the technical partnership with the NEPC, he stated that the NPA has “in the first instance with more in the pipeline” licensed 10 export-processing terminals in the states of Lagos and Ogun.
These export-processing terminals, which will be connected to NEPC’s domestic export warehouses (DEWS) in the hinterland, according to him, have been programmed to eliminate all the delays that previously made Nigerian exports uncompetitive in the global market.
Speaking about single window deployment, the NPA boss said one of the problems preventing a central automation system is that the many marine industry stakeholders are using different systems in silos.
The national single window will quickly be operational, according to him, if the stakeholders band together to combine their automated processes into a single system.