The House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration has urged the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to ensure the effective utilisation of the N50 billion floating dockyard acquired by the agency in 2018.
Speaking in Lagos on Tuesday during an oversight visit to the agency, Lynda Ikpeazu, chairman of the committee, said the floating dockyard has the potential to generate revenue for the nation, if put into commercial use.
Recall that NIMASA had in June 11, 2018 taken delivery of the floating dock to help boost ship repair capacity, generate wealth and create employment for Nigerians.
The committee, which also inspected the Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) and the C4i Centre under the Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure, commonly called the Deep Blue project, pledged their strong support for the project.
Ikpeazu said the committee was impressed by the projects the Agency had facilitated in recent times, adding that the Floating Dock acquired by NIMASA remained a viable project that would generate lots of revenue for the country.
“We need to get a permanent berth for this huge platform because when it is fully operational it would amount to a very huge revenue earner for Nigeria because a lot of vessels would be able to dry-dock in-country,” she said.
On the SMVs and the Command, Control, Computer Communication, and Intelligence Centre (C4i Centre), which the committee also visited, Ikpeazu said she was impressed with the level of coordination at the centre, especially the partnership between NIMASA and the Nigerian Navy.
But she advised that aside NIMASA working with the Navy, the Agency should collaborate with other relevant agencies in the fight against illegalities in the maritime domain.
On his part, Dakuku Peterside, director general of NIMASA, lauded the National Assembly for its continued support for the Agency and the maritime sector, generally.
He also extolled the Nigerian Navy for its leading role in the pursuit of maritime security, adding that the maritime security assets are funded by NIMASA and run in conjunction with the Navy and other armed forces, paramilitary organisations, and agencies under the Federal Ministry of Transportation.
Stating that the National Assembly was very crucial in the Agency’s quest to reform the maritime industry, he said that the success of any regulator depends on the enforcement of laws made by the legislators.
Maksun Mohammed, captain of DB Lagos, said the vessels will be a game changer in the fight against piracy and other maritime crimes on the Nigerian waters, as criminals could be easily reached and stopped.
“We have had hijack cases on our waters and more often than not, the reason they were successful was because they were beyond reach. But with this craft, that is not going to be an issue anymore, because it is either we launch fast interceptor boats that are capable of attaining the speed of about 55 nautical miles or we put our special forces on the aircraft and send them out to the target and capture the ship,” the captain stated.
He said there will be rigorous training for personnel, who will man the vessels, before going into full operation.
“The vessel is highly sophisticated and highly computerised. That is why there will be rigorous training process before we launch into operation. The training will be overseen by experts with inept knowledge about the operations of the ship,” he added.