Recently, and for the umpteenth time, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) again assured that its multi billion Naira modular floating dockyard which was acquired in 2018 will soon become operational.
The recent reassurance makes the number of times such has been given, uncountable. This is even as the deadline of first quarter 2022 that was earlier given has lapsed.
We recall that, NIMASA’s Director General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh told journalists at one of his media briefings where he showcased the agency’s achievements and challenges in 2021, that the floating dock will be operational through a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
To underscore the seriousness of the PPP, Jamoh told journalists that, “the Director General of the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), was here to give us the first certificate, telling us that privatising the modular floating dock is profitable and doable, and they gave us the go ahead to do that”
We recall that the plan to acquire the floating dock was actually that of the management of NIMASA under Dr Ziakede Akpobolokemi. The now-moribund floating dock, which eventually arrived in Nigeria during the administration of Dr Dakuku Peterside, was expected to serve as maintenance facility for visiting vessels and ships in Nigeria.
At the stage of conceptualisation, the facility was planned to save about US$100m annually in capital flight; generate employment, and boost local capacity.
Built by one of the world’s largest ship building firms, Damen Shipyards, and its partner, NIRDA, in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, at a cost of N50b, the NIMASA floating dock is 125 metres by 35metres, with three in-built cranes, transformers, and a number of ancillary facilities.
Available statistics indicate that, about 5,000 ships call at the Nigerian ports annually, there are about 400 coastal vessels and many fishing trawlers. These make the business of dry docking potentially lucrative, because there is an existing and sufficient demand.
Even though the ships are there, there is no facility to meet the demand; hence, dry docking of vessels operating in Nigeria is usually done outside Nigeria. The foreign exchange component of dry docking outside Nigeria is in millions of dollars every year.
Experts have put what Nigeria loses to be in excess of $100Million, when such vessels are moved outside her shores for the statutory dry docking.
Experts also say that, to ensure that a ship is seaworthy, it must be dry-docked twice in at least five years. Some ships may have dry docking postponed or the intermediate dry docking waived by performing an underwater inspection in lieu of dry docking. All these cost huge revenue.
Sadly, there has been a lot of back and forth since the craft came in to the country, about four years ago. Since then, the expensive craft has suffered diverse treatment; the worse being that NIMASA treats it like an unwanted child, unsure of what to do with it and at a point, where to locate it.
How does any agency of government justify the fate that has befallen the floating dock in that manner?
We are of the opinion that NIMASA did not subject the acquisition of the floating dock to due diligence. If it did, the inaction or helplessness exhibited upon its arrival wouldn’t have been, even though its brainchild is no longer the DG.
NIMASA has enough time since 2018 when the floating dock arrived, enough time to determine its fate. Rather than do this, it has been dilly-dallying over what to do. As it is now, the facility is not generating any revenue. The worst is that it is diminishing in value and usefulness.
Did NIMASA not know that, it is a regulator and not an operator, hence operating that dock is not an option. The only viable option is to concession the floating dock to earn money. Each day the floating dock stays idle, it gulps money, depreciates and rots way.
We are worried that, NIMASA, or more precisely the incumbent administration of Dr Bashir Jamoh may be bidding for time in the case of the floating dock.
We recall that the Director-General of NIMASA, in March 2021 assured maritime stakeholders that the modular floating dock would soon be deployed.
Jamoh at the corporate head office of the NPA, while on a visit, said: “I am here to affirm that the modular floating dock has come to stay. We have concluded arrangements for its deployment and operation. The date for its commissioning would be announced soon.”.
And by September of last year, the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) reportedly issued a Certificate of Compliance for an outline Business Case (OBC) for the operation of the Modular Floating Dockyard on PPP basis.
Read Also: Do you support to the call that the NIMASA Floating Dock should be given to the Nigerian Navy?
Apparently not tired of giving excuses, the NIMASA DG again, seized the opportunity of a recent visit to the agency by the leadership of the Nigerian Maritime University in Okerenkoko, Delta state to offer another round of explanations about the Floating Dock.
He said that experts from the manufacturers of the Floating Dock have been in Nigeria for over a month working on the nitty-gritty of deploying the craft.
On the failed promises, Dr Jamoh said again: When I gave them a deadline recently, I was given professional counsel not to rush the deployment. If we have waited this long, we might as well wait a while longer and ensure we don’t regret a deployment in a hurry”.
Perhaps, it is apt at this point to point out that it is no longer so much about the imperative of putting this floating dock to use. It is now more about putting a stop to the unending promises. First, it was 2021, and just like we once predicted on this page, the first quarter of 2022 has come and gone
At the risk of being called pessimists, those who are expecting the craft to be available soon, may need to wait much longer.
However, we will like to be proven wrong. But, it is on record and the Nigerian maritime industry will hold Dr Jamoh accountable for the failed promises and the current state of the facility.
Finally, the industry will hold Dr Jamoh by his words, that he would see to the careful deployment of the dry dock in line with relevant regulatory instruments to ensure wealth creation, job creation, and revenue generation for the Federal Government.
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