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Nigeria gains from vessel repair as Starzs Marine seals deal with foreign firms

Starzs Marine and Engineering Ltd, one of the oldest privately-owned indigenous ship repair yards in Nigeria, has announced that it recently signed a contract agreement with an international consortium of two companies in Holland and another country, to commence the expansion of its shipyard in Onne, Rivers State.

The deal, which was made public by Greg Ogbeifun, chairman, Starzs Investments Company Ltd during a recent virtual conversation tagged, ‘Maritime Symposium- on the Establishment of a Nigerian Global Trading Fleet,’ in honour of his 70th birthday, said the feet was in line with the idea that he started nursing six years ago.

BusinessDay understands that the proposed shipyard would have a capacity not only to repair vessels but to actually build ships in-country. It would also help Nigeria to take its rightful place in the committee of maritime nations.

This move, no doubt, would help Nigeria to save about N36 billion yearly loss in capital flight to lack of dry-docking facilities as it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel in the international market, hence the need for more dry-docking facilities.

According to him, the idea started actualising with the recent signing of the agreement on Monday February 1, 2021.

“Located in the Oil and Gas Free Zone Onne, Rivers State, the shipyard, is going to give hope to the future of the nation’s maritime industry and it would have capacity to dock a vessel of approximately 7,500 tons and above as well as the length of 120 meters,” he said.

Ogbeifun, who was the pioneer president, Shipowners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), said the facility if expanded, would be able to dry-dock vessels of up to 89 metres in length and would help to scale up Starzs shipyard operations.

“It is also estimated to create over 1,000 direct and indirect jobs with a capacity to dry-dock over eight vessels simultaneously. This will reduce downtime for vessel owners and improve overall turnaround time for ship repairs,” he said.

He further disclosed that there will be a dedicated berth for new shipbuilding as well as a berth for shipbreaking, and the project is already at an advanced stage. He added that the project will be the first of its kind in Nigeria and Africa, and will also be a turning point in the ship repair industry.

While commending the effort of Starzs Marine in building the shipyard, Gbolahan Shaba, CEO of LATC Marine, said that a maritime nation like Nigeria must have the capacity to maintain, drydock and repair ships in order to compete in shipping.

According to him, an environment where there is lack of capacity by shipyards to take on high-capacity ships, cannot be favourable for vessel acquisition and ownership.

To create market for shipyards in Nigeria, Hadiza Bala-Usman, managing director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said recently that the agency has granted the necessary approval to ensure that vessel owners dry-dock in Nigeria to save the country multi-million dollars spent on ship repairs outside the country.

“It is important for us to build that sector and retain jobs in Nigeria. We have done our bit in promoting that sector and help in keeping that business in Nigeria, and also develop skill to retain jobs,” she explained.

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