The Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has said that the Nigerian Navy facility is not the best location to domicile the newly acquired NIMASA floating dockyard as a permanent abode.
The National President of the association, Captain Tajudeen Alao who made this position known in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recently said that the Nigerian Navy facility was to exposed as according to him, such facility is better place in a sheltered environment.
Alao maintained that even if the dockyard was going to be managed by the Nigerian Navy in the long run, arrangement could have been made to domicile the facility at Kirikiri and that the dock should have been put into operation by now.
In his words,” First of all, I doubt if this thing can stay outside the Naval dockyard, it has to be in the sheltered water, that place (Naval dockyard) is too open. Arrangement could have been made, even if it is the Navy that is going to manage it, to put it in Kirikiri and by now, it could have been put in operation.
“The location of the Navy dockyard is exposed to sea, the dock is not going to stay inside, it is going to be outside. My experience is that many ships that have been moored here; they suffered a lot of damages because you are talking of putting this thing there permanently. If you look at entrance into Lagos harbor, when the water comes in, you notice that the dockyard is very close to the mouth of the river. It is not in sheltered water environment, a floating dock is better in sheltered water, a river not sea”.
While commending NIMASA for living up to expectation by taking delivery of the floating dockyard which was initiated by the previous administration, the Master Mariners’ boss however frowned at the shabby preparations made before the arrival of the dock which saw it lying idle months after its arrival into the country as according to him, “preliminary arrangement would have been done where it will be, who will use it and things like that”.
Enumerating the benefits of the floating dockyard to Nigeria, Captain Alao who stated that although he could not immediately ascertain the size of the dockyard however said that if the dock was for light vessels and small tankers, there would be immediate employment for it especially in Port-Harcourt axis.
He warned that NIMASA should not manage the facility saying that the facility must be handed over to experienced outfit like Niger Dock among others while NIMASA as the owner one hand, the facility manager and the builder who will run it to quickly run through the paper works and put the dockyard into use immediately.
He continued,” For the long term use, that is a big hurdle but for the immediate, instead of bringing the dock and it will be lying idle, they should have seek people’s opinion and say, look this thing can be given to existing yard and then the people managing it with NIMASA, they will enter into an agreement not MOU of operation so that they can utilize it. NIMASA as the owner, the managing company that built this for NIMASA and the facility manager who must be an existing operator like Niger Dock, Navy Dockyard, Continental Dockyard and some people in Port-Harcourt because they already have experience.
“To me personally, when they see that this thing is viable, they should sell it to the public and government should recover its money back and then, government’s hand is out of it. They should sell it so that every Nigerian can buy into it, NISA, shipping companies, people who operate supply, they can buy interest in it then somebody will manage it for them and then government will recover all its capital. When your ship goes there, you operate at a discounted price and then the place is run commercially. Those who do not have share there, they pay more, so this floating dock will be used by the owners of the medium craft and they will pay discounted price, meanwhile government has recovered its money”.
On NIMASA’s claim that it would use the floating dockyard as a training facility for students of Maritime University, Okerenkoko, Capt Alao said,” If it is to expose them to ship building, ship repairs, underwater bottom and all that, we already have existing yards in Nigeria. We have in Port-Harcourt, we have existing ones in Warri, and we have in Lagos. So, it is just an additional facility like any other one. So, being an additional one, they can extend that facility to the students as well not that it is going to be something that they have not seen before.
“It is just that we needed more dockyards in Nigeria and this one coming in is a kudos, that is the only benefit. For smaller ships that go to Ivory Coast, Cameroun, they can make use of it here instead of going outside provided it is cheaper because if going to Ghana is cheaper for me, I will go to Ghana and dry dock my ship because my feedback is that Nigerian docking is more expensive than it is outside Nigeria”.
It will be recalled that the Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr. Dakuku Peterside last week at a news briefing in Lagos last week informed that the newly acquired floating dockyard would located at the Nigerian Navy facility and be managed by its builder for a period of one year.
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