By Seun Ibiyemi
The federal government on Thursday lamented delay in the take-off of the $195million maritime security contract awarded to an Israeli firm, HSLI.
Addressing maritime journalists during the 3rd Maritime Stakeholders Interactive Forum in Lagos, the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon Rotimi Amaechi decried claims that buying the equipment meant for the project was the reason behind the delay.
According to the Honourable Minister of Transportation, “The contractor claimed that equipment meant for the project is not what you buy off the shelf, that to me is not enough reason for the delay in the take-off of the project.
“They (HSLI) said they have to fabricate the equipment and bring it down to Nigeria, but we are losing man-hours, human beings and business to insecurity on our waters.”
Amaechi also said that the Honourable Minister of Transportation, State, Gbemisola Saraki would personally be in charge of all maritime agencies while he will be focusing on the Railway sector.
“In my first term as Minister, I completely abandoned the maritime sector to the Heads of Agencies. This term around, that won’t be happening again as I have instructed that the Honourable Minister of Transportation for State should personally supervise the maritime agencies, while I just oversight what is happening.
“There are two things I discussed with Mr President that I will be focusing on in this second term as Minister, and they are maritime security and the Single Window project. I have assured the government that by the end of 2020, we should have the Single Window at our maritime sector.
“Just yesterday, we got approval to complete the $5.3billion Ibadan to Kano rail project. We have also applied for funding to commence coastal rail for the Port-Harcourt to Warri segment.”
Also addressing journalists after the programme, the Hon. Minister of Transportation for State, Gbemisola Saraki promised to work on issues associated with cadets having sea-time in Nigeria.
In her words, “Don’t forget that I chaired the Senate Committee on Marine Transport for four years, so maritime is not new to me. I am just going to take my time because newer issues, like insecurity, have come onboard.
“We are going to look at the issues of cadets not getting sea-time. We are also going to look at the issues of ship registry and cargo tracking note.
“We want to know how many jobs the maritime sector will create.”