FG in frantic sojourn to Kenya for options
Nigeria is at the verge of losing about $600million (N420billion) before the end of third quarter, 2022 as close to 1,200 vessels calling at Nigerian ports have movedtoMediterranean, Asia and Europe, Black Sea yards for dry docking. Worried by the influx of shipstoAsiaandEuropefordry docking since the beginning of the year, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) is considering a visit to the newly built Damen shipyard in Kenya in order to create an alternative solution for Nigerian ship owners.
This is coming as the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) made it mandatory that every vessel must dry-docking once every three years to enable it retain their safety classification and insurance cover. Presently, the country has no shipyard that can dry dock bigger ships of 30, 000 tonnes afterNigerianPortsAuthority (NPA) closed its subsidiary, ContinentalShipyardLimited (CSL), Apapa.
The company’s floating dock was grounded in 2010 and failed to be refloated by NPA until it was finally closed to business activities in 2021 despite that of the 4,000 vessels calling at the various port in the country every year. Concerned by the dearth of ships and shipyards, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, had said that there were plans by the Federal Government tovisitthenewlybuiltDamen shipyardinKenya, inorderto createanalternativesolution for Nigerian ship owners on acquiring vessels. It was revealed that the Dutch company; DAMEN Shipbuilding, had built two modern shipyard facilities in Nairobi Kenya. Jamoh disclosed in Lagos that the Minister of Transportation, Muazu Sambo, hadagreedthatsome of theministry officialswould travel to Kenya this month, adding that the biggest ship building company, DAMEN Shipbuilding Company, was buildingashipyardinKenya that will address the kind of issues Nigeria was facing. He said: “The ministry wants us to go and see the kind of ship yard they (DAMEN) are building for the Kenyan Government.
If we see it and it is in line with our thoughts, then we would nowcomeandreplicatesame here.” According to him, Nigerian indigenous ship owners willbe partof the trip anddecisionstakenwould be consensual. However, Nigerian ship owners said that it cost between $300,000 and $500,000 to dry-dock a vessel, while it costs between $1.5million and $1.8 million to tow a vessel to Singapore or other destinations for dry docking. Findings revealed that United States has about 500 ship building and repair yards, Europe, 200 ship building and repair yards, China, 80 ship yards, South Korea and Singapore have 30 ship building and repair yards each.
However, some ships have been grounded, according to former President of Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr Greg Ogbeifun, due to inability of their owners to secure foreign exchange at the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN)’s official window for repairs in other countries. It would be recalled that following the China lockdown to carry out essential upgrades, repairs and dry dockings of vessels, ship repair yards in Europe, Mediterranean and Black Sea have been fully booked into Q3’22, while yards in the Middle East and across Asia are also taking in more business, leading to substantial back logs.
The back up in repair activity comes as International Maritime Organisation (IMO)’s regulations had mandated ship owners to fit all sorts of equipment in their ships in order to control ballast water and emissions. Some ships have been forced to stay in yard far longer than expected, while some ships are doting Nigerian waters because of lack of fund to tow them to foreign shipyards.