Kobus Naval Design (KND) has received the contract to supply two 24 metre P249 patrol craft to the Nigerian Customs Service, which will use them to combat smuggling and piracy.
On May 9 Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council (FEC) approved N3 billion for the procurement of two Customs Service patrol boats for the surveillance of Nigerian waters.
Kobus Potgieter, CEO of Kobus Naval Design (KND), confirmed that his company had received the order and would deliver the vessels in ten months’ time. The aluminium vessels will be built in Cape Town.
Nigerian marine logistics and support service provider Portplus Limited will cover spares and training of 72 crewmembers over a three-year period, according to Nigeria’s This Day.
KND said that its West Africa partner, Rear Admiral (ret.) Akpan has been working close with the Nigerian Authority to make sure that the vessels will be a perfect match for their required application. This will be the sixth KND designed vessel in the Nigerian waters delivered over the last couple of years. The company is also busy with a dive boat contract for the oil and gas industry in Nigeria.
Nigeria’s Information Minister Labaran Maku last month said that the vessels were being procured in view of the “current security challenges” in the region, which were disrupting economic activity. “An effective patrolled water front will go a long way in curtailing the huge economic drain and threat the incidence of smuggling pose to the nation’s manufacturing sector,” Maku said.
This Day reports Maku saying that the Customs Service had 60 vessels, of which 55 were in service. He said negotiations for the purchase of the boats started last year and continued into 2012 as the government provided the necessary funding.
The FEC also recently approved N1.7 billion (US$11 million) for the purchase of a Cessna Citation CJ4 aircraft for the Customs Service. Maku said that the aircraft would be used for surveillance missions along Nigeria’s borders and would help combat economic sabotage and cross-border crimes.
The minister added that the aircraft would be fitted with surveillance and communications equipment, including cameras, reports the Nigerian Tribune. The aircraft is being procured through Africair Incorporated and will be delivered within four months’ time.
Minister of State for Finance, Yerima Ngama, said the aircraft would go a long way in containing smuggling. “The efforts of our men on ground can only be successful if they have air coverage and that is why we brought this memo to acquire this aircraft, which is equipped with satellite communication equipment that can actually survey the border unseen from the ground. It can also communicate with the men on ground to tell them that in this area or that area we can see illegal movements of vehicles.”
Last month it was reported that the Nigerian Customs Service had taken delivery of two helicopters and would soon receive 400 Toyota Hilux vehicles and 5 000 AK-47 assault rifles in an effort to secure the country’s borders.
Alhaji Mohammed Dikko, the Comptroller-General of the Customs Service, said that his agency had already acquired the helicopters for surveillance of Nigeria’s borders and added that President Goodluck Jonathan had approved the purchase of 400 Toyota Hilux vehicles for border patrol.
Dikko went on to say that his agency had imported approximately 5 000 AK-47 assault rifles to arm its personnel against smugglers and gun runners.
Border control is an increasingly important issue in Nigeria. Militant groups in the oil-producing Niger Delta have been illegally supplying weapons for years and Boko Haram is also believed to have received illegal arms, raising questions about border surveillance, especially after reports that weapons looted from Libya have turned up in Nigeria.