By Stephen Ubanna
Between 2020 and now, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, under the Leadership of Bashir Jamoh, OFR, was said to have initiated discussions with Hajia Hadiza Bala Usman, immediate past Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and now Special Adviser to President Bola Ahmed Tinubu, on Policy Coordination and Mohammed Bello Koko, his successor, over the Continental shipyard, CSL, a joint venture between the Authority and a Swiss company at Apapa, Lagos, the nation’s commercial nerve centre.
The high level of decay at the Continental shipyard may have encouraged Jamoh, the NIMASA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, to initiate moves to ensure that the agency takeover of possession of the long abandoned shipyard for the siting of the over N50 billion Modular Floating dock allegedly rotting away at the Nigerian Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island.
There is no gain saying he fact that since arriving Nigeria in 2018, the floating dock which has a ship repair capacity has remained idle while Jamoh and his Management Team have continued the search for a suitable location to site the dock that analysts believe will transform Nigeria’s maritime industry for wealth and employment creation.
The idle floating dock was said to costs NIMASA a whooping N3.6 million in daily maintenance expenses and an additional $30,000 per day as berthing fees, according to the Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors, which was said to have been paid to the Nigerian Navy Holdings Limited.
The NIMASA, boss was said to have opened discussions with the NPA past and immediate top management staff to take over the long abandoned NPA, dockyard with Hajia Bala Usman, in 2020. The then then NPA, Chief Executive Officer, CEO, was said to have assured Nigerians that barring last minute change in plans, ‘’the NIMASA, owned Modular Floating Dock will dock at the Authority’s CSL facility on or before the incoming Administration but that was how far she could go.
Given the assurance of Hajia Bala Usman, the former Managing Director of NPA, to release the Continental shipyard to NIMASA, to site its floating dock may have informed why Jamoh, had assured industry stakeholders that ‘’the agency’s modular floating dock is in the process of being deployed for operation’’.
In making efforts to secure the NPA, Continental dock yard, for the modular floating dock use, officials of the Federal ministry of Transportation and the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission, ICRC, were said to have facilitated the deal between the two parties.
The NIMASA boss had alluded to this in 2021, when he stated that obtaining these approvals were the two preliminary conditions for taking over the NPA, Continental shipyard because of the need to engage the managing partners.
Indeed, after about three years of behind the scene manoeuvring to concretise the agreement for the takeover of the NPA facility at Apapa, Jamoh, NIMASA, Director General, heaves a sigh of relief as the agency finally takes over the areas leased to it by NPA, under the close watch of Bello-koko for the operations of its modular floating dock.
The areas, according to the NIMASA boss, include ‘’the dolphin jetty, the water front of the jetty, adjourning the slipway, an Administrative block, a construction, welding, mechanical workshop and a civil maintenance workshop among others’’.
As a prelude to the handover of the facility to the agency, to complete the operationalisation of the modular floating dock yard, NPA, was said to have installed the dolphins and repairedthe dilapidated facilities at the shipyard premises, where the NIMASA, floating dock would be operated.
Speaking during the handover of the NPA, Continental shipyard,at Apapa, Jamoh, the NIMASA boss, who could not hide his feelings may have gladdened the heart of Nigerians when hen he declared that ‘’it marks the final lap in the quest of the agency to deploy the modular floating dockyard for operation’’.
The Kaduna state born technocrat, who was said to have been represented at the handover ceremony of the NPA Continental shipyard facility to the agency by one Kabiru Diso, the head of the Public –Private Partnership, PPP, Unit, , was said to have reassured stakeholders that ‘’the modular floating dockyard would soon be deployed since all grey areas between NIMASA and NPA, have been addressed’’. He was emphatic that given that all grey areas between the two maritime agencies have been cleared, NIMASA, on its part is very close to the deployment of the floating dock.
Many believe that if NIMASA, had put the floating dock into use as at March 2022, having completed the process for the takeover of control and Management of the NPA, Continental shipyard and getting the nod from the ICRC, ‘’to privatise the floating dock owing to the fact that it is a bankable, doable and profitable venture, it will be saving the country about N36 billion loss to capital flight on a yearly basis.
Nigeria could make that huge loss to capital flight due to lack of dry docking facilities as it costs between $300,000 and $500,0000 to dry-dock a vessel in the West African country of Ghana and other smaller countries in the sub-region as well as other international ship repair yards.
Recall that Engr. Muazu Jaji Sambo, the Taraba state born former minister of Transportation, until the dissolution of the Federal Executive Council, FEC, in late May, 2023, by former President Muhammadu Buhari, had described ‘’the deployment of the idle modular floating dockyard as one of the low-hanging fruits in the nation’s maritime sector which will befit Nigerians’’.
An elated Jamoh had revealed that the deployment of the multi-billion naira floating dockyard will go a long way ‘’to support ship building, repairs and recycling in the industry’’’. Going by the calculations of officials of the maritime regulatory agency, the floating dock if fully deployed for operations would generate and pay into the Federation account about N12 billion to the coffers in the first of its operation. The revenue projections is expected to grow in subsequent years, the agency officials had said*-.