• Sunday, July 14, 2024
businessday logo

BusinessDay

FG threatens to scrap NIMASA over fraud, contract outsourcing

businessday-icon

Federal Government has expressed its intention to approach the National Assembly to repeal the Act setting up the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), over misappropriation of funds and outsourcing its core responsibility.

Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, said this in Abuja on Tuesday, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Marine Transport on activities of the agencies under his supervision.

The minister lamented that NIMASA had nothing to show for the N63 billion revenue generated in 2015, citing an instance where he discovered that there was no equipment at the agency’s search and rescue unit meant to monitor movement of vessels and provide treatment for injured personnel.

Amaechi, while berating the agency for contracting a private company to carry out its core functions, said the Ministry would rather scrap the agency and engage the contractor directly.

He also revealed that the ministry would carry out audit of all agencies and parastatals under the ministry, adding that NIMASA makes N63billion yearly but refunds nothing to government.

He said that the ministry’s visit to NIMASA indicated that the agency was doing nothing, adding that only three doctors and a stethoscope were found in its search and rescue centre.

The minister said that the agency was only just installing the instrument that could be used to locate vessels whenever there is an accident.

“So, what happened to all the money that they have been making yearly, NIMASA makes N63 billion annually, what happened to that money?” he queried.

He also revealed that the Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta State, proposed by former President, Goodluck Jonathan had been scrapped, seeking refund of already released funds to the contractors.

He said other maritime institutions of the Federal Government could be upgraded to university, adding that going ahead with the project is a waste of resources.

He said: “We are not going ahead with the university project proposed by NIMASA because we have a an institution in Oron, we have Nigeria Institute of Transport Technology, Zaria and we have the Nigerian College of Aviation in Zaria which we could upgrade to a University status and NIMASA is proposing to build a new one.

“Who will attend the University? How many parent will allow their children to go to such place where it propose to site the University? What is the aim of the University that we cannot achieve in Oron where they have all the necessary infrastructure.

“I don’t think we are proceeding with the university being proposed by NIMASA because it is a waste of resources, and unfortunately a lot of money had already been released for the University project hence there is no structure on ground but just the feasibility study.

“Whoever that is holding on to the money should better return it. The Chinese company contracted confirmed that only the feasibility study was in place”.

On the need to by the federal government to encourage individuals to buy vessels, Amaechi said the experience in the aviation industry is that such idea was brought up and about N300bn was released to encourage investors in the sector by the last administration.

He said: “In fact there is a particular man who collected N32bn and left the country. I don’t think that the federal government needed to release N52bn to investors in the maritime industry what we are considering is to facilitate a partnership arrangement between the operators and foreign investors in which case we can support Nigerians who had shown serious interest in the business with about 40 percent of the investment while their foreign partners bring 60 percent. That will assure us that we would recoup our investment.

“One of those who collected the aviation bailout who has has done nothing with the money is working freely on the streets of Nigeria, his airline is dead and he did not even deem it fit to inform the ministry.

“I am protecting the maritime funds and we could only disburse it after we seen the President, the foreign investors who will partner with the Nigerian investors that meet our guidelines. We have the N52bn in the TSA account of NIMASA.”