The multimillion dollar floating dockyard owned by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) which arrived the country recently will save the country millions of dollars in capital flight once operational noting that efforts are being made to create enabling environment for the growth of indigenous participation in shipping.
The Director General of the Agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside who made this known during an interactive session with Journalists in Lagos said that the facility which would be operated on a Public Private Partnership model will be located at a facility of the Nigerian Navy.
The NIMASA DG said that the Floating Dockyard would commence operations immediately after the commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari. He added that when fully operational, Nigerian Shipowners and their foreign counterparts would no longer need to take their vessels outside the country for dry docking.
According to him, “Nigeria looses up to $100m annually simply because when our shipowners need to dry dock their vessels, they mostly take them to neighboring countries like Ghana and Cameroun thus spending avoidable forex. When this facility is fully operational it has the capacity to drydock any vessel incountry and save the much needed foreign exchange”.
Speaking further Dr. Peterside noted that the facility would be operated in conjunction with the builders as technical partners.
He also assured that it will create thousands of jobs for teeming Nigerian youths as well as provide training opportunities for seafarers, adding that the NIMASA floating dockyard would also be available as a training facility for the students of the Nigerian Maritime University, Okerenkoko and other maritime institutions in the Country.
“we are planning to ensure that the permanent location of this facility would benefit our students for training and we have also engaged the builders to manage the facility for a one year period at a Naval facility” while further arrangements are being worked out”, he said.
Speaking on other issues, Dr. Peterside said that the Agency is working on a special foreign exchange intervention for vessel parts acquisition and loan repayment processes to enable indigenous operators compete favourably with their foreign counterparts. He added that there is a team working with the Central Bank of Nigeria on how best this policy can be implemented. He said this is aside working towards the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF) which will give room for a full-fledged Cabotage regime with more job opportunities created.
Commenting on the Agency’s Survey, Inspection & Certification Transformation Programme, Dr Dakuku Peterside disclosed that 3,752 Certificates of Competency (CoC) were issued in 2017 to successful Seafarers. Representing a 149 % increase from the CoCs issued in 2016.
Dr. Peterside said that the impact of this is the confidence of stakeholders who now willingly verify certificates without prompting. He further informed that a total of 1,880 certificates were authenticated for stakeholders in 2017 alone, a significant rise when compared to the 1013 CoCs verified in 2016.
The NIMASA DG further informed that the number of Nigerian Seafarers placed onboard vessels from January to June this year is 2,337 representing 58.9% increase in the number of seafarers employed stating that this move has led to job and wealth creation in line with the Federal Government Economic Recovery and Growth Plan, ERGP.