A former Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, has said that illegal oil bunkering and other illegal businesses on the Nigerian waterways cost the country about $25bn yearly.
The former minister spoke weekend at a reception and book launch held in his honour by a group from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority and other stakeholders in the Nigerian maritime industry.
The Minister described the bunkering merchants as the “the seventh largest producers of oil in Africa.”
He said, “Illegal economy in the (Nigerian) waters is about $25bn. The Americans spoke to me; they said Nigerian illegal bunkering merchants are the seventh largest producers of oil in Africa.
“One place I will leave with you is the security outfit we are pushing. I don’t know who will be the minister of transport; you have to be strong. That security outfit is a $195m contract. Whether they deliver or not, the people will take their money.
“They (contractors) are training our security that will handle the waters and we hope that it will be successful.”
Amaechi pointed out that if the money lost to illegal business on the water as well as the one spent on escort services to secure vessels calling at Nigerian shores was put back into the economy every year, Nigeria would be rich.
While expressing worries on the huge money spent by shipping firms on security, he noted that a maritime security contract of $195m, had been awarded to HSLI, an Israeli firm in 2018 by the Federal Government to protect the water ways.
“I told Dakuku Peterside that the solution to the security issue is to make sure that whether we are sleeping or not, we are seeing our waters,” he said.
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