- Marine Commands to get 2 additional security vessels
The Acting Comptroller-General of Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Adewale Adeniyi MFR, has directed its ship consultants, Port Plus and officers of Western Marine Customs (WMC), to speedily repair and deploy two abandoned security vessels, ‘Customs Pride’ and ‘Group of Nine’ for operations in 40 days.
Comptroller Salefu, Area Controller, WMC, revealed this during a chat with journalists in his office earlier today, where he also disclosed that Customs is set to acquire two new additional security vessels from Singapore.
Salefu, while speaking with the heads of maritime reporters associations, observed that there is a dire need to acquaint the media with Customs efforts to revive the marine assets following the queries in a recent press statement by Maritime Reporters’ Association of Nigeria (MARAN).
According to the WMC boss, contractual issues between Customs and the vessels’ consultant, Portplus Limited, led to the jettisoning of the marine assets at Lagos Marina for 8 years as Late CGC Abdullahi Dikko didn’t handover Portplus contractual documents of the vessels to the immediate-past Customs administration of Col. Hammed Ali (Rtd).
“Ahead of CG’s tour of Lagos Commands, the first place he visited was to inspect the 2 ocean-going vessels. We received him there as early as 7am and he asked questions on the state of the vessels. The consultant gave an outrageous cost when the CG asked what it would take to get the vessels operational in 30-40 days.”
“Subsequently, the CG gave an order that the vessels should be operational within 40 days and I swiftly followed-up with correspondence to Portplus but it took about 3 weeks get their response. They later explained that the delay was because they were in Abuja trying to re-enter a contractual agreement with Customs.”
“Last week, I had a meeting for over 3 hours with Portplus and they announced to me that they have been re-awarded the contract. Nevertheless, I want to announce that the vessels weren’t acquired for N180billion. I’ll give the total cost of the contract and cost of maintenance as soon as I receive the official copies,” the WMC Controller said.
The Customs boss also hinted that the Service spent an average of N23million per annum for maintenance of the ships, judging by the 2021 fiscal request of the consultant for maintenance.
He, however, stressed that there are also space constraints for the vessels as the consultants are having space problems at the Naval dockyard for dry-docking even as they are considering utilizing Niger Dock, among other alternatives.
Salefu noted that with the vessels being refleeted, the Command, with about 180 officers presently, would need more technical personnel to man the vessels.
He explained that 3 officers have been sent to Singapore for specialized training, whilst the amphibian Command has equally identified areas of human capital needs for the vessels and informed the NCS management of the needs.
Meanwhile, he observed that Customs is currently exploring partnership with the Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Oron for maritime manpower, adding that since he came onboard at the Command, 15 gun boats have been provided by the Customs management.
“The contract for the 2 Customs vessels has been re-signed and the consultant has moved into action. Very soon, we’ll see our two ocean-going vessels sailing again,” he assured.