Nigeria: Deep Blue Project - Minister Threaten to Withhold Contractor's Fee

2 December 2020

The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has threatened to withhold the balance of the contract fees of the Deep Blue Project if all the terms of the project were not met.

Speaking during an inspection tour of the equipment for the project in Lagos, Amaechi told the contractors that if the Navy was not trained on the operations of the fast intervention vessels amongst other conditions that were to be met, the balance of their fees will not be paid.

During the tour at the Navy Town in Lagos where some of the equipment are currently domiciled, a Naval officer had told Amaechi that the vessels have been docked at the Naval Dockyard in Navy Town without any form of training.

He also disclosed that when the Navy asked for the drawings of the vessels so as to study them for better understanding of their operations, they were not obliged.

He maintained that the Navy should have been carried along from the beginning of the project at the design stage of these vessels.

Amaechi, therefore, asked the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to speed up the training arrangement for the Naval personnel that will man the vessels.

According to him, "since civilians are not allowed to carry arms on board, we will need the Navy in this regard", adding that exposing civilians onboard vessels to arms is also against the convention of the International Maritime Organization, IMO.

He stated: "The boats were not meant to be equipped with arms because it is against IMO regulations. NIMASA cannot do without the Navy; consequently the Navy should know everything about the vessels.

"There is too much secrecy in involved in the operations of the vessels. We will not pay the second part of the money until the Naval personnel are fully trained."

He also asked for copies of the drawings and designs of the vessels, apparently for onward transmission to the Navy.

Speaking on the development, one of the Captains in charge of the fast intervention boats, Capt Niksa Nundov, a Croatian, told Vanguard Maritime Report that there is planned three months training for the operators of the boats.

Dundov explained that the training programme is broken into three phases namely a month of class room work, another month of practical work on the vessels and another month for supervision of the trainees.

He said that he has been on the vessel in the last fifteen months as against the planned three months adding that he is making plans to return home to his family for the Christmas, blaming the delay on the Coronavirus pandemic.

He stated:"My contract with this project is very short; it ought to have ended some few months back".

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