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As part of measures to contain the rising wave of petroleum products theft on the nation’s maritime domain, the Federal Government is concluding plans to commence the enforcement of fresh regulations on the berthing of vessels, especially mother ships. Mother ships are very large tanker ships used in the carriage of refined petroleum products, which cannot berth at the nation’ seaports because of the relative draft of the channels, the deepest being Apapa, which is 13.5 meters, which are too shallow for such big ships, some of which are 17.5meters and above and so have to anchor midstream. It has been estimated that Nigeria loses over N100billion annually to oil theft, which experts believe if not checked, might portend economic danger for the Nigerian economy. Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan, Mr. Leke Oyewole who spoke in an interview, disclosed that the government has taken steps towards increasing anti-piracy and sea robbery campaign within the Nigerian territorial waters, which had earned Nigeria a bad reputation among comity of nations.

According to him, the government has over the years discovered that the two categories of vessels that are attacked by these pirates and sea robbers are the mother ships which are so big and therefore cannot berth at the nation’s seaports, which have relatively low draught, and so anchor offshore, adding that no container or other bulk cargo vessel has been attacked.

Another category of ships prone to such piracy attacks are those relatively smaller tanker vessels, which are used to discharge products from the mother ships to the storage facilities for onward distribution to the depots, most of which are hijacked and their contents stolen.

He disclosed that under the new berthing regulations, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have been detailed to ensure that they capture in their systems any mother ship coming into the Nigerian waters for proper documentations and registration.

The essence of this, it was further gathered is to ensure that all mother ships that come into the Nigerian waters are made to anchor at a particular place; that is the anchorage for proper monitoring.

The presidential aide said: “If any ship is reported by NPA or NIMASA as not captured in their system, it means that such ship entered illegally and in that case, we will send the Nigeria Customs Service after such ship and the implications are not pleasant”, he had warned.

 

Information from National Mirror was used in this report.

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