Ocean Marine Solution Limited (OMSL) has faulted the claim by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that the Secure Anchorage Area (SSA) manned by it, in collaboration with the Nigerian Navy, constituted a threat to national security.
A Secure Anchorage Area is an area outside the Lagos port that the Nigerian Navy, together with OMSL, has defined as a secure place where vessels can anchor safely from the threat of pirate attacks.
Specifically, it is a dedicated anchor port in the sea for ships that are waiting to berth in the Lagos seaports at Apapa and Tin Can Island.
Media reports had quoted the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, to have said that the Authority had notified the Nigerian Navy of its decision to dismantle the SAA, being operated by OMSL on behalf of the Navy.
However, in a swift riposte, the OMSL said the pronouncements by the NPA were not only insensitive but also outright malicious to criminalise honest intentions in order to justify scrapping of a credible and working security solution.
According to OMS, “Our attention has been drawn to some article in ThisDay newspapers of 20 October 2019, quoting statements and opinions on the operations of the SAA purported to have been articulated by MD NPA; and several other publications in recent times casting aspersions on the integrity of Ocean Marine Solutions Limited (OMSL).
“While we do not intend to join issues with anyone seeking to disparage our Company on the pages of newspapers for ulterior motives, we wish to state that OMSL is a responsible and professionally run organisation that has enviable track-record of contributing immensely and positively to the economy of the nation, working closely with the Nigerian Navy.
“This collaboration has contributed to the improved security and tranquility enjoyed today offshore Lagos harbour approaches, through provision of platforms and logistics support that enabled maintenance of the 24/7/365 presence at sea necessary to deter the criminal elements.
“This has not only given captains of vessels making port calls to Lagos so much peace and comfort, the International Maritime Bureau (IMB) has also downgraded the High Risk Area (HRA) classification for Lagos waters twice recently as a result of the cooperation. All these positive results are achieved at no cost to government.
“Therefore, anybody, seeking to give the impression that SAA operations constitute a threat to national security, simply lacks understanding of the real situation or is being clearly mischievous for personal agenda.
“It is in the light of these that the pronouncements being credited to NPA in this context, are seen as insensitive to our commitment to contribute positively to national course or outright malicious to criminalize honest intentions in order to justify scrapping of a credible and working security solution.
“We wish to enjoin the general public to please disregard the innuendos and seek clarification from the rightful authority on the establishment and operations of the Secure Anchorage Area (SAA).”
Recall that the NPA had said that the OMSL’s security service operations had also increased the costs of doing business in the nation’s seaport in Lagos.
Usman had directed shipping lines to stop paying fees of $2500 on the first day and $1500 per subsequent days at the anchorage being allegedly charged by OMSL.
She had claimed that it was the NPA’s responsibility to provide security for vessels and crews at the ports and at the anchorage.
A letter, according to her, had been written to the Nigerian Navy to stop the operations.
“It is established that vessels are directed and regulated to this facility by OMSL, who NPA does not have contractual agreement or other with. However, the Navy has a memorandum of understanding with OMSL and is providing security to the anchorage. The continued operation of this facility by a private entity could pose security threat to the nation,” she had said.
She had further stated that “a new framework, nearing conclusion, is being put in place to be managed by NPA in collaboration with Navy and other government agencies.
“The safe anchorage has been removed, and we would work with the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA to secure the anchorage. Any attempt to create any insecurity, to justify the establishment of the safe anchorage area, would not be accepted.”