The NIMASA Floating Dock
Even as stakeholders still express reservations about the long delay in putting the multi-Million Dollar floating dock belonging to the Nigerian Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to use, a former director in the agency; Capt Enisuoh Waredi has said that acquiring the floating dock was intended to bridge the gap between supply and demand.
According to Capt Waredi, NIMASA decided to acquire the floating dock because “shipping was booming nicely at that time”.
He explained that at that time, Nigerdock dry docking facility in Apapa was overbooked and “ships that were due for dry dock were either on waiting list or going to Ghana, or going to Senegal”.
According to him, the dry docking facilities in both Ghana and Senegal were also fully booked, hence “the only way out for ship owners, was to apply for Dry Dock Extension”.
He said, even at that, the dry dock extension that was given to ship owners was only for six months, within which they must dry dock their ships, and there must be “proof that you are on waiting list amongst other requirements”.
He said the fact that, the dry docks were overbooked presented a good business case for NIMASA to venture into the business of dry docking.
He explained that the self-dry floating facility was chosen for NIMASA, “so that the NIMASA dry dock can dock itself in Nigeria”, thereby “saving the country huge foreign exchange from returning overseas for docking and cleaning”.
Capt Waredi also boasted that the NIMASA floating dock “was the first of its kind in Africa at the time”.
He also confirmed that, from the beginning, the location of the floating dock was to be near the Nigerian Maritime University, “so the students can easily have their IT co-located with the institution of learning”.
He however acknowledged that, even though it was conceived to be located close to the university, there was also challenge of insecurity in the Niger Delta, emanating from underdevelopment and joblessness.
“The dry dock and the University was to provide palliatives; addressing these issues, instead of NIMASA or Navy constantly investing in platforms which we would not have the financial and technical capacity to maintain on the long run”, he added.
According to him, if the floating dock arrangement had gone as planned, Nigeria would have benefited, “because our region would no longer be classified as war zone that requires insurance premium on merchant ships”.
He said, in addition, there would have been many other multiple effects arising from locating the dry dock in the Niger Delta.
“Even the old woman who didn't see the four walls of a school, could have earned an income from selling food to workers, other villagers with land could have had their land values go up astronomically”.
Underscoring the impact of the dry dock on the restiveness of the Niger Delta, the former NIMASA director added that, “who will leave all of that legal way of earning a living go out and attack ship instead”.
He stressed that locating the facility in the Niger Delta would have provided the final antidote for peace in the Niger Delta.
Capt Waredi’s position on the floating dry dock came about 24 hours before the declaration by the DG of NIMASA; Dr Bashir Jamoh that the dry dock will now be moved to the Continental Shipyard owned by the Nigerian Ports Authourity in a Public Private Partnership deal.