Following the efforts made by the Nigeria Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to revamp its N50 billion modular floating dock, indigenous ship owners have tasked Melsmore Marine Nigeria Limited, the concessionaires of the dock, to ensure that effective local content skills are employed during its planned operations.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that NIMASA recently said it has the taken-over areas leased to it by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) at the Continental Shipyard Limited (CSL) for the operations of the Modular Floating Dock.
However, ahead of the expected engagement of the floating dock, NIMASA had handed over the leased site to its technical partners in the floating dick business; Melsmore Marine Nigeria Limited.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh confirmed the development recently, even as he disclosed that the technical partners would liaise with the management of the NPA in finalizing the site management. He added that this included risk assessment in preparation to move the Modular floating Dock to the Continental Shipyard for the commencement of full operations.
But speaking with an array of ship owners last week, they all commended NIMASA for its efforts in revamping the floating dock, adding that it will immensely generate revenue for the government and country at large, if properly and effectively managed by the concessionaires.
A ship owner and chieftain of the Nigeria Ship Owners Association (NISA), Engr Josiah Wassa commended NIMASA for the concession and relocation of the floating dock after several alarms had been raised by stakeholders.
Engr. Wassa, who was a former Secretary of the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors, stressed that the floating dock, if properly utilized and managed would lessen or eradicate indigenous shipowners’ patronage of foreign countries for the maintenance of their vessels. According to him, this will immensely generate revenue for the government and help preserve foreign exchange.
Wassa however, charged the Melsmore Marine Nigeria limited to embrace local content skills by fully employing Nigerians for their operations in dry docking and maintenance of ships. He also advised that where Nigerians are short of skills or experience, adequate training should be organized for them in order to build skill and technology transfer while creating employment for Nigerians.
In his words: “The floating dock will become useful, especially for vessels less than 5000 dead weight in capacity. It has been over two years bringing this to their notice. Now they have acted on it. I would say Kudos to them for heeding our advice. It is a good development. Don’t forget that that facility cost us a lot of money.
“I do hope that the company that they concessioned it to handle the maintenance and the operations of the dock has a Nigeria content because that is the whole idea. We want maritime/marine skills and all the jobs should be done by Nigerians.
“If Nigerians do not have the experience or the skill to do it, then by way of training they should be encouraged, so that the facility can be put to use. Dry docking sounds very tough, but if you understand it, it is a very simple way of carrying out maintenance. So it is a good development. It will lessen our trade abroad for maintenance. It will conserve funds and more importantly there will be skill and technology transfer. The maritime industry needs skilled hands; it is not only shipping all the time” Wassa stated.
On his part, the President of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and a ship owner; Alhaji Aminu Umar noted that the commencement of the operations of the floating dock will be greatly helpful as many ship owners in Nigeria are currently utilizing dry docking services at other countries and locations.
According to Umar, Nigerians who operate tankers cannot use the dry dock because of their size, adding that only small boats and tugboats can access the floating dock. He however noted that with the deployment and utilization of the dock, more savings will be made because vessels in Lagos can access the dock instead of going to places like Port Harcourt for dry docking.
“I believe that if it commences operations properly, some boats and small ships will be able to utilize that dry dock, it will be helpful. What I don’t know is the commencement date of the dry dock operations. I only saw that they have moved it to the Marina in preparation to move it to the continental shipyard to access the dry dock. Most of the ships are already accessing dry docks within the country.”
“When you talk of ships going to dry docks outside Nigeria, most of them are bigger than this dry dock. If they want to go to the NIMASA dry dock, they are bigger than the dry dock, so they won’t have access to it. But the smaller boats like the tugboat, cruise boat and all that can access the dry dock,” Umar concluded.
On his part, another indigenous ship owner, Dr Edward Sowho noted that Nigeria’s biggest concern is the generation of revenue, adding that the modular floating dock will be greatly beneficial to achieving the aim of generating revenue for the government.
Sowho noted that the deployment of the floating dock by NIMASA is a welcome development, particularly at these trying times of economic meltdown in Nigeria. He added that the refurbished floating dock will create capacity for indigenous shipping if well harnessed.
“I think it is a good development because it is going to be a source of revenue for the government. Modular floating dock has been laying somewhere for a long time and they should refurbish it so that we can begin to do some dry docking of vessels. I think it is a good revenue initiative. We need the money. Nigeria’s biggest problem is revenue generation. So anything that can improve our revenue should be encouraged” Sowho said.