THE NEED TO ESTABLISH MARINE SAFETY CORPS IN NIGERIA BY GRACE AMAEGBE-KOINYAN

One of the top most priorities governments around the world must give to the citizenry in coastal areas are safety and security especially if maritime business must thrive.

Safe maritime transport is important for passengers and crew, residents of coastal and port areas, the environment and the economy.

Truth be told, maritime transport is of great importance for the global economy, as it accounts for around 80 percent of worldwide trade highly affecting economic development.

Essentially, both maritime transport and its related activities have a great overall impact on the economy, influencing a lot of industries, directly or indirectly.

Significantly, for the country’s maritime environment to be conducive for business, its territorial waters must be devoid of criminals like pirates and kidnappers.

It is equally important that those who use the waters, including the inland waterways for various activities like travelling and fishing, are safe from mishaps and incidents.

This is more important even as attention is now being focused on alternative means of transportation, as well as transport infrastructure.

Wrecks and other objects of impediment to maritime traffic are common features on Nigerian Waterways.

Hence, it is the duty of those saddled with the responsibility to ensure such wrecks are completely removed to ensure safe, smooth and accident-free traffic along waterways in the country.

This is why the recent call by the Bayelsa State Government beckoning on the Federal Government to establish a Marine Safety Corps is a push every well-meaning Nigerian must take up.

The establishment of the Marine Safety Corps top among many other reasons will effectively address security challenges on the waterways across the country.

Sadly, security challenges are more in the riverine areas, with the Niger Delta especially Bayelsa experiencing the majority of the attacks.

The call which was pushed forward by the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo, when a delegation from the Nigeria Police Trust Fund paid him courtesy visit in Government House, Yenagoa also was made so as to help in the fight against sea piracy, kidnapping and other crimes in the Niger Delta.

Accordingly, establishing the marine equivalent of the existing Federal Road Safety Corps could help the Nigerian Navy and others in policing the creeks of Bayelsa State since it demanded a lot of logistics.

Consequently, the Deputy Governor explained that the state needs more support in terms of gunboats to enable the marine division of the state Police Command to effectively secure the creeks.

While expressing the state government’s preparedness to collaborate with the Federal Government on security, he added that the Marine Safety Corps would support other security agencies to safeguard critical national assets such as oil facilities in the state.

According to him, until the Federal Government and the 36 states work closely together to fight against insecurity, Nigeria would not be able to achieve sustainable peace and tranquility.

As all of these as clearly stated by the Bayelsa State Deputy Governor, it will also stem the high tide of sea piracy on water high way and serve as a means of employment for thousands of unemployed Nigerian youths.

Similarly, it will effectively address the astronomic level of vandalism occasioned on Nigerian waterways and high sea

Most significantly, it will help to curb illegal importation of sophisticated weaponry into Nigeria through the sea, to avoid the further proliferation of arms that is already becoming very rampant.

It is on this premise that the National Assembly, other critical stakeholders should support the call for the establishment of Marine Safety Corps.

Doing this would go a long way to complement the efforts of the state, federal governments in the security sector.