BY GODFREY BIVBERE
Managing Director of Global West Vessels Specialist Ltd, Capt. Winfred Itima, has advocated collaboration between the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other security agencies in the country to effectively combat piracy along the nation’s waterways.
Itima, who disclosed this in Lagos, explained that Nigeria has a very large expanse of waterways and if the war against sea robbery that has put the nation in bad light amongst the commity of maritime nations is to be won, there must be collaboration amongst security agencies.
According to him, “NIMASA alone does not have the firepower to deter anybody from attacking any vessel. All hands must be on deck
“NIMASA as an organisation cannot even cover the nation”s coastline right now because we only came into this job for about a year. We hope by year end we will have enough vessels to cover the Nigerian coastline which is about 2,000 miles. It is not an easy task for NIMASA but we are surviving. We have other organisations. The one controlling the coasts can do whatever they want to do.”
The Globa West boss noted that a lot of people keep blaming NIMASA but they forget that the agency does not have the necessary military capability to deter such attacks.
In his words, “Every time people blame NIMASA, but NIMASA does not control the military. Safety does not mean that NIMASA will go and get guns to fight. These guys come with big firepower, where will NIMASA have that firepower to fight them. But it is decreasing you see. Gradually when they see NIMASA, the Navy and every other agency personnel patrolling, things will calm down, I know.
“If you ask anybody, he will tell you that Lagos outside bar is quiet now. It is not like before where every night you receive calls on armed-robbery etcetera, but now it is getting quieter than before.” On the alleged collection of N486 million from NIMASA monthly as payment for contract for the provision of platforms to combat crime along the nation’s waterways, Itima denied it.
He explained that what they receive monthly is based on the revenue collected by NIMASA from its intelligence reports, monitoring activities in addition to the provision of platforms.
The Global West helmsman pointed out that there is no specific amount due to his company monthly because the contract stipulates that they will only be paid if NIMASA surpasses the benchmark set for expected revenue to the coffers of the apex maritime regulatory agency.
He explained that at the end of every month, NIMASA sums up the revenue collected and gives his company 50 percent of whatever amount that is over and above the benchmark. He further noted that no official of his company is in the know of how much is collected by the agency but that they depend entirely on whatever NIMASA declares and gives to them every month.
He also disclosed that there were months when they did not get anything from NIMASA because they could not surpass the benchmark, adding that they had to go to the bank to get loan to run their operations.