NIMASA Floating Dock: A Drain Pipe

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By Elizabeth Chukwuma

For years, officials of  the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, have been hiding under the cover of the ministers of Transportation both past and present to spend its huge  revenue allocation  on white elephant projects  that gulp billions of naira which industry operators had  described as ‘’drain pipes’’  

One of such white elephant projects   of the agency   was the  N50 billion  floating Dock which was said to have been built at the European countries of Netherlands and Romania Ship Building and Repair Yards. Note that Patrick Akobolokemi, a former Director General of the agency had taken the bold initiative to acquire floating dock for the agency in order to take advantage of the numerous vessels that call at the nation’s ports in order to put the country on the map of countries that have the capacity to dry dock and repair vesels. The original intention of the former NIMASA dIrector General was to deploy  the  floating dock  to  Okerenkoko, the permanent site of the  Nigeria Maritime University, in Delta state.

It was one of the multi-million naira maritime projects that was said to have been inherited from the  former President Goodluck Jonathan Administration  going by the report   from the agency. Recall that the administration had the option of cancelling the contract but it was said to have been  reviewed   upwards  which facilitated the completion of the building for the vessel and fitting of the facilities  by the foreign  Ship Building and Dockyard and subsequent delivery to NIMASA  on June 11, 2018.

At the instence of  Dakuku Peterside, a  former  member of the  House of- Representatives and  now Director General, of NIMASA, Rotimi Amaechi,  a former governor of Rivers state  and minister of Transportation with the support of   President Muhammad had  pushed for the re-approval of  the multi-million naira floating dock  at the  federal  Executive Council, FEC. He got it.

  He may have read the handwriting on the wall which attracts hundreds of ocean  going vessels  to the  country’s seaports annually  it needed to have a floating  dock to bridge the gap of not having  a functional  Ship Building  and Repair Yard. This is because of the International Maritime Organisation , IMO, insistence that all ocean going vessels must undergo   dry docking every three years  to ensure their sea worthiness.

It was not surprising why he pursued the  completion of the floating dock project statrted by by his predecessor , with  regular visits to the  Ship Building and Repair Yards in Netherlands and Romania to monitor the   extent  of work  done.

Note that  lack of a functional  Dry Dock Yard in the country  may have forced the shipping Companies  which take their vessels to Nigerian ports  to take it to the West African country  of Ghana  and the Central African country of Cameroon for dry docking when it was time to do so. A ship agent who spoke to The Value News disclosed that that it cost between  $300,000 or N45 million  and $500,000 or N75 million to dry dock and repair a vessel

The  NIMASA  Authorities  may have put up a convincing  argument to support the agency   to acquire  the multi-million floating dock when stressed that  it will save the country $1 billion  by taking over the delivery  of   the floating  dock facility  ostensibly to dry   dock and repair     merchant vessels , fishing Trawlers  and crude Oil Tankers to ensure their sea worthiness .  

The Rivers state born politician was said to have been  applauded  in both official and unofficial quarters  as  a man with vision who  has  come to take the nation’s  maritime sector to greater height because of the support he  was said to be getting  from the ministry and the Presidency   He may have gladdened the heart of  Industry operators  when he said  that the floating dock  would commence operation  as  soon as it was delivered  by the foreign ship Building Dock Yard. Many believe that Amaechi and the President may have thrown their weight  on the floating dock project to facilitate work on it  by the oversea  Ship Builders  because of the financial gains to the country.   

 They had expected the NIMASA  Authorities  to keep to their  promise of putting  the  floating  Dock  to work as promised. Between 2018, when it was delivered to  the agency and inaugurated by the Katsina state born Nigerian President  and now, it remained berthed     at the Naval Dockyard, Victoria Island, Lagos, an indication that  the agency may not have carried out  due intelligence before going ahead to seek for the FEC, approval to procure the floating dock.  Moreso, the agency appears  not  to have had  had a target market to deploy the floating dock t for business.

Going by the initial arrangement of the taking the  floating dock to the floating  dock to the Naval Dock Yard, the NIMASA  officials  were optimistic that it would remain berthed at the Naval Dock Yard for only a year to  enable the Naval personnel  carry out the necessary repair works and replace broken down parts   in order to effectively  dry dock vessels without problem.   

Given an insider information, the NIMASA Director General had said that  the floating dock would   be operated  in conjunction  with the builders  as technical partners, in order to save the much needed foreign exchange for the country.

NIMASA Floaating Dock At Naval Dock Yard, Victoria Island

 He was said to have told those that cares to listen   it   would also  be used as a training facility  for the students  of the  Okerenkoko Maritime University   and other maritime Institutions in the country. But that was how far he could go. The floating dock appears to have been abandoned at the Victorian Island Naval Dock yard, over a year  after  it was delivered by the   Ship Building  and Repair  Yard to the agency.

For the over one  year  that the NIMASA  multi- million naira floating dock  had been at the Victorian Island Naval Dock   Yard, it was said to said to have been incurring running expenses   as the generators powering the   facility has to be kept 24 hours running as minor and major repairs have to be  carried out t  to ensure that it  could  effectively dry dock vessels whenever NIMASA is ready to put it into  use.

Unconfirmed report said the   abandoned floating dock at the Victoria Island Naval Dock Yard gulps about  N3.6 million  daily or   about N100 million by to maintain, repair and fuel by the Navy. Maritime analysts believe that by abandoning the floating dock at the Victoria Island Naval Dock Yard   since the ship Building Yards delivered  it to the agency,  not  many shipping Companies or agents   would want to take their  vessels   to  the floating dock  for fear that some of the parts may have  deteriorated  as   it had remained  stationery in one  location  for over a year for fear and as such  may  not do  a good  job. This is may have informed why many  of the foreign Shipping Companies including some indigenous ones    are still looking up to  Ghana or Cameroon ,which have better  dry docking facilities to repair their vessels. This is bad news to NIMASA   officials  who  had hoped to save $1 billion for the country  if it could quickly   deploy the facility to start  dry docking vessels.  

 Analyststs  would want Peterside and his Management team to go back to the drawing board to ask themselves questions on why  the agency had deceived the government to go ahead with the acquisition  of  the  floating dock when it was clear that they were not ready to operate such a complex facility.  

Given the billions of naira  that was said to have been spent to acquire  the floating dock and  the millions of naira spent monthly, to maintain and repair the facility by Naval personnel,  there is need for the government to  carry out a forensic  audit of the accounts of the agency  to ascertain the genuineness of the transactions and the deal with the navy  to maintain and service the facility which had gulped millions of naira when it  had never  been  put to use since it was  delivered to the agency in 2018.  

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