Plans by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to curb capital flight with modular floating dockyard has allegedly been disrupted by lawmakers’ refusal to approve the right budget. BAYO AKOMOLAFE reports
Three years after, inconsistencies in budget proposals have marred delivery of the first modular floating dock embarked upon by the NIMASA since 2014. The floating dockyard project was embarked upon by the agency to ensure that over 5,000 ships of various sizes calling at Nigerian ports repair their vessels in the country.
It was learnt that more than 95 per cent of the vessels calling at the ports carry out their dry dock services in other African countries such as Namibia, Cameroon, Ivory Coast, South Africa, Ghana and Angola.
It was gathered that the facility, believed to be Africa’s fifth largest floating dockyard, was embarked upon as part of measures to curtail the massive capital flight in the country.
According to the President of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, the country is losing up to N180billion ($500million) annually to neighbouring countries due to lack of shipyards in Nigeria. He noted that ship building was relatively non-existent in the country.
The president told New Telegraph that the sector ought to be making a substantial contribution to the country’s income, saying that the loss to the sector was estimated to be about $500 million per annum.
It would be recalled that the dockyard project was initiated in 2013, while the actual construction work started in 2014 at the world’s largest ship building firms, Damen of Netherlands, but was stopped and started again in 2016.
The dockyard, it was learnt, has a length of 125metres, breadth of 35metres, fitted with three inbuilt cranes, transformers and a number of ancillary facilities.
On assumption of office in 2016, Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, promised that the dock would be delivered before the end of 2017 but the agency could not meet its financial obligations to the shipyard in the last two years as scheduled.
Already, members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport and House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration have visited the shipyard in Netherlands to evaluate the project as part of their oversight functions.
However, he alleged at a forum in Lagos recently that the National Assembly had been cutting its budget proposals, leading to the delay in delivering the project on schedule.
According to him, the agency had made projections and payment plans but could not meet up with the plans because of budget interference by the National Assembly.
“So, the shipyard did also not meet its projections on the delivery of the project. It all points to budget cuts and disruptions but we are doing everything possible to ensure that the project is delivered before the end of 2018,” Peterside noted.
There is need by the Federal Government to create job opportunities and generate wealth for the country.
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