The Executive Council of the Federation (FEC) rose from its meeting Wednesday with an approval for the release of N11.756billion for the purchase of six security speed boats for use in the fight against piracy and criminality in the country’s waterways in the Niger Delta region.
Minister of Transport, Idris Umar, told reporters at the end of the meeting that a $19.7 million (about N2.9 billion) contract was approved for the acquisition of three boats for the security of vessels and ships, while the other three boats for the patrol of inland waterways would be procured for N233.6 million.
Contract for the purchase of four other passenger boats was also approved for award at the cost of N321.5 million, while about N8.3 billion is to be spent on the reclamation of the erosion-prune Abam-Nnuju-Igbiri-Oba-Okujagu-Ama water front in Okrika Local Government Area of Rivers State.
The contract is expected to be completed within 24 months. The area, is threatened by erosion from surrounding coastal waters from the Atlantic Ocean.
The minister said FEC also approved contract for the acquisition of a suction-dredger with ancillary equipment for the routine maintenance of the lower River Niger channels to help address the problems of rural poverty and improved infrastructural development in the area.
Minister of Information, Labaran Maku , said three of the boats, designed for the security of vessels and ships within ports jurisdiction, would be operated by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in conjunction with the Nigerian Navy.
The other three boats, earmarked for the security of inland waterways, would be operated by the Marine Police in conjunction with the National Inland Waterways Authority.
“The purchase of these boats will empower the Navy and the Nigerian Ports Authority to guarantee safety of vessels that come into our waterways, particularly in the Lagos area,” Mr. Maku said.
“The ministry also brought proposal to buy additional boats for inner waterways security. Looking at the memorandum that were submitted and the importance of these boats to secure both inner water ways and coastal areas, the Federal Executive Council gave the go ahead to the Ministry of Transport to purchase the boats to reinforce our maritime security.
“We find it very important because piracy has been in the increase and the issue of oil theft and several other criminalities in our waterways has been there for a while. Government is desirous of addressing this by equipping our security forces, particularly to guard our waterways to bring down the level of criminalities and all those who ply our coasts should feel secured.’’
The minister said the meeting, presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, also approved the contract for the procurement of four fast moving commuter water buses to promote passenger movement on the inland waterways.
He said the water buses with capacity to carry between of 40 passengers and 45 passengers each would be deployed on the Port-Harcourt-Bonny route, the Calabar-Oron route, Yenagoa-Nembe-Brass as well as Marina, Lagos and Mile 2 route.