.The abandoned multi-billion Naira NIMASA floating dock
Stakeholders in the maritime industry have called for the sale of the multibillion Naira floating dock which belong to the Nigeria Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
Recall that NIMASA had in June 11, 2018 discretely taken delivery of the floating dock, which it said would help boost ship repair capacity, generate wealth and create employment for Nigerians. However, about three years after the purchase of the floating dock, the agency is yet to put it to work.
Reports indicate that the huge craft gulps about N3.6 million daily (over N100 million monthly) as running cost, without any economic benefit to the nation.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that, shortly after assuming office, the new Director General of NIMASA Dr. Bashir Jamoh had said that the agency will hand over the floating dock to the Nigerian Ports Authourity (NPA).
He said in June last year that NIMASA will soon finalise the movement of the floating dock to the Nigeria Port Authority dockyard facilities for use.
But, months after the DG gave the promise, the floating dock is still anchored at the Naval dockyard, gulping the humongous amount without any hope in sight that it will be moved soonest.
Reacting to the long stay of the floating dock at the naval dockyard, the President of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) Capt. Tajudeen Alao urged NIMASA to urgently put the floating dock to use or sell it to those who will make use of it.
According to him, “the floating dock should be put to use urgently, it’s better to make mistake than not to take action at all, the floating dock is lying idle and the money they are spending to maintain it where it is, is more than the money they used in purchasing it, they should forget about politics and go back to the drawing board and put it where it should be, whether there would be patronage in Okerenko is what I don’t know”
“If the floating dock is not going to serve the purpose why it was purchased they (NIMASA) should take it to where it can be used or otherwise they should sell it, so that private people can make use of it, in Onne there are places where it can berth in Onne port even at FOC”, he said.
On his part a ship owner; Capt. Taiwo Akinpelumi urged NIMASA to go into Public Private Partnership to save the agency from spending tax payers’ money on the maintenance of the floating dock, he argued that Public Private Partnership is the best option for the floating dock.
He said, “let them go into Public Private Partnership with the floating dock, I think that’s the best thing to do, it will be judiciously used that way than where it is now, and it will save the country the cost of maintenance, the agency is spending on the floating dock, so I think they should enter into a PPP agreement”.
On his part, a former president of NAMM; Capt Akinwunmi Ishola also urged that the floating dock be taken to the NPA dockyard where it can be put to use, even as he argued that taking it to the NPA dockyard will be in the best interest of the country.
When asked about what is delaying the movement of the floating dock to NPA dockyard the Deputy Director Public Relations of NIMASA, Mr. Philip Kyanet said the agency is still working in collaboration with Nigeria Port Authority (NPA) to see how the floating will be moved to permanent place and put to use.
The floating dock project was aimed at ensuring that ships of various sizes calling at the ports are dry-docked and thus help save the country from capital flight as a result of dry docking vessels abroad.
It was estimated that Nigeria loses about N180 billion yearly to neighbouring countries due to lack of ship repair yards, hence it was seen as a laudable project.
According to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), every vessel must undergo dry-docking once every three years to retain their safety classification and insurance cover.
It costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel, going by the prevailing international rates.
But, NIMASA has said the agency’s multi-million dollar floating dockyard will save the country about N36 billion in capital flight yearly once it commenced operation.
Besides the investment in the facility, it was noted that the floating dock would create an enabling environment for the growth of indigenous participation in shipping, such that when fully operational, Nigerian ship owners and their foreign counterparts will no longer need to take their vessels outside the country for dry docking.