Transport Minister Mu’azu Sambo said the federal government has taken care of the country’s waterways through the implementation of the Deep Blue project.
Sambo said this during the 2nd edition of President Muhammadu Buhari’s Administration Scorecard (PMB) Series (2015-2023) in Abuja on Monday.
He said that since the inauguration of the project in June 2021, the country has not recorded any cases of piracy in its maritime domain.
“The department, in its multi-faceted and intermodal mandate, has supported the safety and security of the country’s international waters in our waterways and rail corridors in collaboration with a wide range of stakeholders.
“Now, it may interest you to note that the Gulf of Guinea is the most notorious region in the world, as far as piracy is concerned.
“To tame this in Nigeria’s Exclusive Economic Zone, the ministry implemented the Deep Blue Project, also known as the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure.
“To prevent illegal activities in the maritime waters of Nigeria, thereby contributing to regional security in the Gulf of Guinea and the maritime organization of West and Central African jurisdictions.
“The project also aims to enforce maritime regulations to improve the safety of lives at sea.
“With this impressive record, we are preparing to challenge the burden of insuring war zones on ships bound for Nigeria by the international maritime community,” he said.
According to the minister, the Buhari administration also approved the Anti-Piracy Bill, adding that it is important legislation that stained several administrations before 2015.
He said the legislation would prevent and punish piracy, armed robbery and any other unlawful acts against ship, aircraft and other maritime traffic, including fixed and floating platforms.
He further said that the bill has opened the door for the administration of justice for piracy and other maritime offenses in the country.
On inland waterways, he said Buhari’s administration had considered it as an alternative mode of transport other than road, air and rail because it was cheap and environmentally friendly.
“We have over 10,000 kilometers of inland waterways in Nigeria, in addition to about 850 kilometers of coastal waters. So which company do you have to move containers from Lagos to Onitsha by road?
“If we develop our inland waterways sufficiently, we can have our goods competitively, the prices of our goods in the international market will be very competitive, just as importing goods will be very competitive,” Sambo said.
The minister reaffirmed that Onitsha port has been successfully conceded and the government has established ports at Baro in Niger, Lokoja in Kogi and Oguta in Imo States.
Regarding the development of inland dry ports in the country by the federal government, Sambo said the main thing is to bring shipping closer to the people.
According to him, the government has successfully declared the inland dry ports of Kaduna and Dala as ports of origin, adding that other ports such as Funtua, Isialangwa, Aba, Jos, Maiduguri, among others, were at various levels of completion. (NOPE)