Every year, Nigerian ship operators spend an estimated N36 billion due to lack of dry-docking facilities, as it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel in the international market.
Yet, 31 months ago, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) acquired a N50-billion floating dockyard, which has not been put to use. This has continued to deny the nation’s economy as well as the entire maritime industry what would have been accrued gains.
A floating dockyard is a shipyard facility used in a shore for the building and repairing of ships. However, the idleness of the facility acquired by the Nigerian agency has been attributed to the inability of NIMASA to secure a permanent space to anchor the floating dock as well as the bureaucratic bottleneck impeding the privatisation of the dry-docking facility.
In June 11, 2018, when NIMASA took delivery of the floating dock, it was seen as an enabler to boost ship repair capacity, create wealth and employment for Nigerians. But two year and seven months after, the facility has since been lying fallow at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos.
This was despite the assurance of the present management of NIMASA led by Bashir Jamoh, its director-general, that the agency had opened discussions with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and an intending managing partner to begin operation of the dockyard.
“We have been discussing with the managing director of the NPA to move our floating dock from its present location at the Naval Shipyard to the Continental Shipyard owned by the NPA. NIMASA has also signed a memorandum of understanding with international oil companies (IOCs) that are doing business with the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) to be taking their ships to NIMASA’s dockyard for dry-docking when the dockyard begins full operations,” Jamoh previously said.
Tajudeen Alao, president, Nigerian Association of Master Mariners, who pointed out the need to put the docking facility into use, said the floating dock was lying idle yet gulping monies for maintenance.
While stating that the facility can berth in Onne Port, Alao advised NIMASA to ensure the floating dock was meant to serve the purpose for which it was acquired.
On his part, Taiwo Akinpelumi, a ship owner, also advised NIMASA to consider going into public private partnership to save the agency from spending tax payers’ money on the maintenance of the unused floating dock.
In yet another suggestion, Akinwunmi Ishola, a master mariner, said the floating dock should be moved to the NPA dockyard where it can be put to use for Nigeria and the nation’s maritime industry to gain from the facility. Reacting, Philip Kyanet, deputy director, public relations of NIMASA, said the agency was still working in collaboration with the NPA to see how the floating dock would be moved to a permanent place and be put to use.
Findings show that it cost about N3.6 million on a daily basis and over N100 million on monthly basis as maintenance cost for keeping the floating dockyard running.
Meanwhile, Hadiza Bala-Usman, managing director, NPA, said during a recent virtual discussion that the agency had granted the necessary approval to ensure that vessel owners dry-dock in Nigeria to save the country multi-million dollar spending on ship repairs outside the country.
According to her, NPA granted a waiver to vessels that are meant for servicing and dry-docking and this has enabled vessel owners to competitively dry-dock in Nigeria.
“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 keep that business in Nigeria, and also developing skills to retain jobs,” she explained. Despite the assertion, the facility purchased by the country for this purpose has remained unutilised.