The Federal Government has revealed the criminal steps undertaken by saboteurs involved in the theft of crude oil which has continually plunged the country’s economy into turmoil.
The revelation was made by the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Koko, on Tuesday.
He explained this while speaking at the Ministerial Media Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team at the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
According to Koko, rogue ships evade arrest as they switch off their Automation Identification System that displays the vessel’s position and others in the vicinity.
The head of the NPA bemoaned the theft and removal of buoys installed on shipping channels in eastern ports to aid navigation, saying that these actions had a negative impact on maritime safety along the corridors.
He added that the Authority was now in the process of acquiring Vessel Traffic Services so that it could identify, locate, and monitor all vessels in the nation’s waters.
A certified consultant has now been identified to take up the process, he continued, adding that the Authority had been attempting to acquire the VTS for roughly 10 years.
Koko further expressed hope that it could be acquired before the current administration ended.
“From intelligence, persons bringing in vessels to steal crude, one of the things they do is, they shut down the AIS. This is what is needed in terms of transmission for you not to even know when the vessel comes in and the location they go to. They come in legally but then, they go by the left hand side to commit illegal activities after switching off their AIS.
“We are going ahead to deploy the VTS and to also have information in terms of vessel movement,” Koko said.
He claimed that a large number of shipping companies were avoiding the ports because they lacked the buoys necessary to direct their movements in the water.
“There is a beacon light there that flashes at night. So the first thing they do is to vandalize that sensor, and then, you just have iron that has no light, and they can just drag it off without the sensors.
“We can monitor it if it is not disconnected. At times, we send in our boats to go round scouting for it. And to also be fair to the communities, we have had some instances where the buoys were naturally taken away by nature. They went adrift, and they ended up on the shore of some communities.
“And to be fair to them, they have actually called us a couple of times to tell us that there was a buoy that has gone adrift and it is in our community. And we thank them for that.
“We believe probably the communities do not even know the individuals that are involved in these activities. So, we are monitoring the buoys. And that’s how we got to know how many are stolen any day it’s stolen.
“Because the captains are also taking vessels in and out of the water channels, they will naturally know when they can’t find the beacons on the buoys, meaning that something is missing, and they normally report it.”
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