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Nigeria loses N300b to Ghana, others over floating dock

NIGERIA has continued to lose about N300 billion ($600 million) yearly to Ghana and other neighbouring countries over failure to put its modular floating dock into use.

Recall that in 2018, a N50 billion floating dock was acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) with the intension of curbing capital flight, create jobs and generate revenue for the country from the thousands of vessels sailing to Nigerian port yearly apart from floating vessels, coastal vessels and trawlers.

According to data from the Nigerian Port Authority (NPA), a total of 3,972 vessels called at Nigerian waters in 2020, while 4,251 vessels sailed to the port in 2019.

Ship owners had revealed that over 1,200 vessels out of those that operate within Nigeria’s territorial waters were forced to Ghana, Cote d’Ivoire, Senegal, Cameroun, Namibia and South Africa yearly for docking facilities.

According to International Maritime Organisation (IMO), every vessel must dry-dock once every three years to enable it retain safety classification and insurance cover.

Ship owners said that it costs between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel, while it costs between $1.5 million and $1.8 million to tow a vessel to Singapore or other destinations for dry docking.

They noted that some ships had been grounded due to the inability of their owners to secure foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s official window for repairs in other countries. After much complaints, in June 2020, NPA and NIMASA agreed to berth floating dock at the Authority’s abandoned Continental Shipyard, Apapa, in order to make it functional and earn a huge amount of revenue.

However, the agreement to put the modular floating dock into use has suffered a setback one year after, as nothing has been heard about it despite assurance by the Director-General of NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, that the floating dock would be operational by the end of July, 2020.

Before the new development, NPA had indicated the intention to auction its shipyard after the joint-venture agreement expired in 2018 between the Authority and Dockyard Engineering Service of Geneva, Switzerland, which gave birth to Continental Shipyard Limited (CSL). It was learnt that the dockyard, which had not been working since 2010, has been abandoned, vandalised and rendered a scrap.

At the moment, NIMASA’s floating dock, built by Damen Shipyards and its partner, NIRDA, in Amsterdam, the Netherlands, which has the capacity to employ over 300 Nigerian youths directly, is rotting away on Nigeria waters.

Nigeria has only one ship building yard located in Onne in Rivers State, while there are other small yards, which could build barges and fibre glass.

According to a former President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun, the country needs higher capacity ship repair yards to curb capital flight.

He noted that ship building was relatively non-existent in the country.

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