Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja
The Federal Executive Council has approved a $195m (N59.86bn at N307 to a dollar) contract for the security of Nigeria’s waters, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said.
Amaechi also announced that the insecurity in the eastern coastline was responsible for the low level of economic activities in the various ports located in the region, particularly the Warri and Onne ports in Delta and Rivers states, respectively.
The minister, according to a statement issued by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Abuja on Friday, stated this at the 2nd Maritime Stakeholders’ Interactive Forum organised by the ministry in Warri, Delta State.
He told participants at the forum that the FEC had approved the $195m contract for the security and safety of the nation’s territorial waters, adding that it was important for stakeholders in the zone to vehemently oppose those who were working against the take-off of the security project.
Amaechi, according to the statement, said some people, including few security personnel, were benefiting and making billions of naira from the bad system at the ports, and promised that he would mention names if his current effort to solve the problem became hopeless.
“There are some people in the system making efforts to sabotage the project by stopping the security contract. They know that if there is security, they won’t impose any kind of levies on you,” he was quoted as saying.
The minister noted that the contract was part of measures put in place by the Federal Government to secure Nigerian waterways for legitimate business to thrive and also solve part of the Niger Delta problem.
Amaechi, therefore, urged ship owners in the country, especially those from the zone, to join hands with him in fighting the saboteurs of the Federal Government’s security efforts.
“You must come up with your petition, indicating how much you are losing, with statistics to support its impact on the economy so that we can convey it to the President,” he said.
He also warned public servants working against the implementation of the security project to desist, noting that he would work within his capacity to secure Nigerian waterways.
“We need to restore Warri to what it used to be, so that Warri and Port Harcourt can bounce back,” Amaechi stated.
He explained that the two ports in the zone had great economic potential to compete favourably with the Lagos ports in generating substantial revenue to the Federation Account.
The minister lamented that the insecurity bedevilling the South-South had made the ports unviable, as the situation was so bad that the business community in the zone preferred to patronise the Lagos ports for the movement of their goods.
“We must tell ourselves the truth. Warri used to be a haven before and also Port Harcourt. But, now, they have been discarded.”
Okechukwu Nnodim, Abuja