The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency has begun to take delivery of maritime security platforms worth $195.3m contracted to an Israeli company, Messrs HLSI Security Systems and Technologies in 2017.
Financial Street gathered that NIMASA had already received two special mission vessels: 14 of the 17 fast-intervention vessels and 14 out of the 17 special armored vehicles from the Israeli firm.
However, the agency could not begin implementation of maritime security project tagged, ‘Deep Blue Project,’ due to the COVID-19 pandemic which stalled the training of navy personnel who would man the platforms.
The project, also known as the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, aims to tackle insecurity on Nigeria’s territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zone, up to the Gulf of Guinea.
Confirming the development, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, said plans were at an advanced stage to harmonise the training procedure of the agency and the Nigerian Navy for the improved safety and security of the country’s maritime domain.
Jamoh told the Flag Officer Commanding, Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral Fredrick Ogu, during a visit to the agency’s headquarters at the weekend that what was causing the delay in the deployment of the security platforms was the training component as some of the training would be done outside the country.
“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic there is a little delay in the training programme,” he noted.
Jamoh pointed out that a large chunk of NIMASA’s budget went into the training of its workforce, adding that other stakeholders, including the navy, also benefit from training programmes facilitated by NIMASA in the overall interest of the maritime sector. He said NIMASA would also look in the direction of naval facilities and how to harmonise the training guidelines to meet the standards required by the International Maritime Organisation for certification.
He explàined, “NIMASA invests so much in the training of her workforce. Aside from that, we have what we call non-staff educational assistance, which is also geared towards building capacity for the maritime sector, apart from our workforce. This we have also done by including navy personnel whenever the opportunity and the need arise. In this wise, we are open to approval of training facilities across the country as long as they meet IMO’s training standards.”
Jamoh said NIMASA was not an armed organisation and could not achieve its mandate without the navy. He said the navy-NIMASA relationship had come a long way, and predated the Memorandum of Understanding that birthed the Maritime Guard Command, manned by naval officers and domiciled in the agency.
Earlier, Ogu, who was appointed FOC, Naval Training Command, in June, reiterated the need for NIMASA and the navy to work together closely in training and on other fronts. He emphasised NIMASA’s role in the certification of most maritime-related training programmes.
“I know we have an existing MoU with NIMASA, which makes it easier for us to relate on many fronts,” Ogu said. “The importance of NIMASA to our training cannot be overstated. They are the ones who issue certificates for our basic mandatory and survival at sea training. So there is need for us to harmonise our training methods to further enhance our capacity,” he said.