Even as the much-awaited modular floating dockyard acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) berthed in Lagos yesterday, shipowners under the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) have criticized the agency over its right to operate a floating dock or a shipyard in Nigeria, saying that it is not part of its mandate.
NIMASA initiated a modular floating dock project in 2013 and work started in 2014 on the dockyard measuring 125m by 35m with 3 inbuilt cranes, transformers and a number of ancillary facilities being built by one of the world’s largest ship building firms, Damen of Netherlands and their partners NIRDA
Deputy Director in charge of Public Relations at NIMASA, Mr. Isichei Osamgbi confirmed to Shipping Position Daily yesterday that the floating dock has now arrived in Nigeria.
Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, during a project evaluation and inspection meeting with officials of Damen Shipyards and NIRDA in Amsterdam, Netherlands 2017 had given assurances that the Agency would deliver what will be Africa's fifth largest floating dockyard in 2017, but the project was apparently delayed.
But Osamgbi confirmed to our correspondent yesterday that “we are working out modality to put up a press statement, it is being expected and it has arrived, but I would confirm positions and let you know in the press statement”
Swiftly, the President of the Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN) Eng. Greg Ogbeifun has condemned the move by NIMASA to operate a floating dock.
Speaking with Shipping Position Daily, he said: “I do not know if it is part of NIMASA’s mandate to acquire or manage a floating dock or operate a shipyard, where are they going to operate the dock? Who is going to operate it? Is NIMASA supposed to be acquiring floating dock when shipowners are dying and not being supported for their business?”
Ahead of the expected arrival floating dockyard in 2017, Ogbeifun had also spoken at a public event saying that it is not part of its responsibility to create dockyards. He argued that all NIMASA needed to do was create the right environment for private individuals to build ship yards and operate dry docking facilities.
He advised NIMASA that, as soon as its Modular Floating Dock arrives in Nigeria, it should be handed over to private individuals to operate.
"NIMASA should see what they can do to encourage existing or new ship yards, we are waiting for the arrival of the floating dock, this should be a turning point in the industry but I don't think you are planning to operate it yourself because you are not set up to do that"
But you can get establishments that are already in that business to operate it and create the much needed capacity in that sector of our industry.
The availability of ship repair yards are in Nigeria is confronted with obsolete facilities, poor maintenance and lack of funding”, he argued.
Currently over 90% of vessels operating in Nigeria carry out their dry docking overseas fretting away the much needed foreign exchange at great cost to the country.
NIMASA DG; Dakuku Peterside, had earlier in the year said that the aim of acquiring the floating dock was to save the country from the capital flights as a result of dry docking vessels outside the country.
According to him, NIMASA is building floating docks in Romania and Netherlands.
“Availability of the floating docks will save us capital flight because right now, most Nigerian vessels are dry-docked outside the country.
“The issue of dry docking vessels outside the country and loss of foreign exchange will soon be a thing of the past”, he said.
Peterside said that the floating docks would improve Nigerians’ skills in ship building, maintenance and create employment for many Nigerians.
Famed as Africa's fifth largest floating dockyard, had added that apart from boosting ship repair capacity, it also has the potential to transform Nigeria’s maritime industry, generate wealth and create employment.