Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Security of coastal areas

18 July 2011

THE recent outcry by the Forum for the Advancement of Nigerian Maritime Sector over insecurity of our coastal waters is predicated on illegal oil bunkering and incessant pirate attacks on sea vessels. The body’s worry deserves attention, given the economic importance of our coastal marine environment.

Pirate attacks off Nigerian coastal waters have, unfortunately, been likened to what is happening in the Gulf of Aden, where Somali pirates have made life uncomfortable for sea vessels, marking the gravity of the situation. This is clearly unacceptable.

Apart from our oil resources, which entirely come from the coastal marine environment, the importance of fishing, in addition to other derivable resources cannot be overemphasised. The coastal areas should be secured to allow for full exploitation of economic resources.

According to reports, the Presidential Implementation Committee on Marine Safety and Security has acquired hi-tech coastal surveillance equipment for total coverage of the nation’s coastal areas. The move is to stem the rising spate of attacks on coastal waters.

The new radar system reportedly has the capacity to capture ships and other water crafts at 99 nautical miles away round the clock. It is to be installed in four coastal locations, namely, Escravos, Bonny, Brass and Calabar, with Lagos serving as the hub. If the equipment is installed and handled properly, it would go a long way to reduce the menace of sea pirates and crude oil thieves in Nigeria.

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