The “Secure Anchorage Area” contract in Nigeria is officially suspended, the Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi said on Monday at a media briefing.
Secure Anchorage Area (SAA) West Africa is a private initiative used by merchant ships for protection from piracy. Owned by Ocean Marine Services Ltd (OMS), it is situated approximately 12nm off the South-West coast of Lagos, Nigeria.
SAA provided armed security boats to protect vessels in the secure anchorage area. The vessels were armed Nigerian Naval Forces. SAA operated within National and International maritime laws under the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Port Authorities (NPA) and a very strict Nigerian Navy Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
Minister Amaechi spoke at a media briefing on the Deep Blue Project – (Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure) organised by the NIMASA in Lagos, he said “I took the decision to stop the secure Anchorage project because the issue is that an individual cannot protect a country; it shows that there is a failure in the system. The government must protect both persons and investment to ensure orderliness,”
All ships and vessels coming into Nigeria must now anchor at the national ports under the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) which will be covered by a new integrated maritime security infrastructure. the Integrated National Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure or, “Deep Blue Project”
Minister Amaechi said that the launch of the Deep Blue Project would “drastically reduce piracy and other crimes within Nigeria’s maritime domain and the Gulf of Guinea” once fully operational.
Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside said many of the assets for the Deep Blue Project had already arrived in the country including six interceptor boats and a special mission vessel, with a second vessel due this month. “We expect the first helicopter in the first quarter of this year. Almost all the communication gadgets are in the country as well as the Personal Protective Gear (PPG). The C4i centre is fully operational in Kirikiri, the NIMASA Research Centre. Those are the assets we have on the ground, “However, between now and June this year, over 80% of the assets would be in the country, and they would be manned by the Nigerian military.”