Chief Executive Officer of Norfin Group, Mr Iniekong Udonwa, says the shipyard has begun the building of security patrol vessels to curb militancy in the Nigerian Martime corridors.
Udonwa stated this while fielding questions from journalists at the Shipyard, Ikot Ukpong community in Oruk-Anam Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom on Friday.
He said that the aim of building the vessels was to reduce the level of piracy and other heinous crimes in the nation’s territorial waterways.
Recall that on January 19, some suspected militants attacked the shipyard and destroyed properties worth 60 million naira.
“This is the only shipyard in Nigeria that is going into ship building, others are only into maintenance and repairs.
“We are now building security vessels to show case our own water that sea men can be protected and also add value to Nigeria and reduce piracy in the country,” the Norfin boss said.
He said that the shipyard was partnering the office of Amnesty programme of the Federal Government and the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) to train youths in the area of ship building, and related maritime opportunities.
According to him, the training will take the youths away from cultism, militancy, kidnapping and armed robbery to a fruitful venture.
He further said that the training would avail the youths the opportunity to become professional ship builders and enable them to get job in any part of the world.
“NDDC approached us and negotiated on training some youths interested in ship building from this area and we agreed to partner with them.
“Even Amnesty Nigeria has also approached us demanding cultists and militants to surrender their arms and be trained in the shipyard.
“This is going to open up the opportunity for our youths to be trained and provide employment,” Udonwa said.
He explained that the youths would receive first hand training so that when they are specialised, they would have access to build ships in Europe and other continent because people are looking for ship builders.
The chief executive also said that the shipyard would soon establish a fishing fleet in Oron Local Government Area of the state to boost the economy of the place.
“We will soon embark on construction of other sea going vessels, including, ferries, barges and fishing trawlers.
“We need to build about four ferries for Calabar-Oron and another four ferries for Bonny- Port Harcourt. For Oron, we are going to build a fishing fleet to boost the economy,” he said.
Udonwa urged people to get involved in the maritime industry, saying that Akwa Ibom produced 65 per cent of crude oil in Nigeria and there was need for the state to get involved in the maritime sector.
“This is a money spinning investment; Akwa Ibom is losing $5Million daily following the inability of our people to get involved in ship owning business and investment in the maritime sector,” he said.
He made a case for a state owned financial institution that would help the people access credit facilities to enable them acquire ships and invest in the nation’s maritime industry.
“We need an Akwa Ibom bank that will support our people to buy ship and invest in the maritime and oil and gas sector.
“If Akwa Ibom people can purchase 50 ships that can generate about 50 million dollars revenue to the state, it will increase standard of living of the people,’” the Norfin boss said.