BY UCHE USIM
The Federal Government is planning a total satellite coverage of the nation’s maritime domain as a way of dealing with the perennial challenge of oil theft, illegal bunkering, piracy and other criminal activities in the sector.
Senior Special Assistant (SSA) to the President on Maritime Affairs, Leke Oyewole, disclosed this yesterday when he paid a scheduled visit to the headquarters of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC).
According to him, the government is also planning to fully automate the maritime agencies not only to block revenue leakages but also to make them more efficient in service delivery.
Oyewole stated that plans are afoot to link the agencies with the satellite to better monitor the sector.
“Automation is the way to go. Navy has its satellite for monitoring and safeguarding the territorial integrity of the country. NIMASA also has satellite surveillance platform. The NPA is developing its own automation as well. A country like America has many satellites that can give information on a minute by minute basis. So, we make sure we separate these satellites and have three sites in Nigeria. We’ll also have airplanes and troops that will be linked to the ground station and that in turn linked to the automated agencies and create one encrypted intranet platform. If human beings would not talk to each other among the agencies, electronic would,” the SSA said.
Oyewole extolled the Executive Secretary/Chief Executive of NSC, Hassan Bello, for what he described as his robust vision, which he said was in tandem with government’s transformation programme.
“Bello’s vision is in line with that of government and the government is seeing the efforts of NSC to improve the sector. That’s why we all worked hard to ensure it was made the commercial regulator. Bello has tried to reposition the sector despite the challenges and government bureaucracy. Dealing with some people in government is like dealing with demons. Some just feel certain good things can’t happen because they’re feeding fat from the rot. Yet, he’s forging ahead and it’s commendable,” he said.
On the nerve-racking challenge of traffic gridlock in Apapa, Oyewole said the perennial issue was being looked into, expressing hopes that the soon-to-kick-off Inland Container Depots (ICDs) and the development of excellent water transport system will tackle the challenge.
“Port efficiency is key and that’s why Mr. President approved the ICDs. We’re also developing the inland waterways and that will reduce the number of trucks and tankers coming into Lagos ports to carry both solid and liquid cargoes.”
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