Budget disruptions stall completion of Nigeria’s modular floating dock-NIMASA
A modular floating
By FRANCIS EZEM
Expectations that the country’s modular floating dock project would be delivered by the end of 2017 as earlier projected were marred by disruptions and inconsistencies in budget proposals, according the Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside.
The modular floating dockyard project was initiated in 2013 while actual construction work started in 2014 but was stagnated and started again in 2016. The dockyard being built by one of the world’s largest ship building firms, Damen of Netherlands and its partners NIRDA, has a length of 125m and breadth of 35m and is fitted with three inbuilt cranes, transformers and a number of ancillary facilities.
Peterside, who had on assumption of office in 2016 promised that the project would be delivered before the end of 2017, however said while fielding questions from newsmen shortly after a one-day seminal on the ‘Role of the Media in Developing Nigeria’s Blue Economy’, held recently in Lagos that the agency could not meet its financial obligations to the shipyard over the period.
According to him, more often than not the National Assembly cuts and disrupts budget proposals sent to it, a development that made it impossible for the agency to pay the shipyard as at when due, which culminated in the delay in delivering the project on schedule.
“We made projections and payment plan, but we could not meet up with the payment plans and 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 this year”, the DG assured.
The agency had projected to deliver the facility believed to be Africa’s fifth largest floating dockyard the end of last year, as part of measures to curtail the massive capital flight out of the country.
This is sequel to recent reports that more than 5,000 vessels of various sizes and configurations call at the nation’s seaports and related facilities, out of which more than 95 per cent do their dry dock services outside the shores of this country, including African countries such as Angola and Ghana, with the attendant high incidences of capital flight.
It was also gathered that sometimes Nigerian ship owners are compelled to go to neighboring Cameroon to dry dock vessels due to the total absence of such a facility in the country, thus paying out in scarce foreign exchange..
The NIMASA DG in company of some members of the National Assembly had held a project evaluation and inspection meeting with officials of Damen Shipyards and NIRDA in Amsterdam, Netherlands, during which he said that the current management of the agency under his watch, has decided to revisit the project with renewed vigour given its economic importance not only to the shipping industry but also the macro economy, especially in terms of creating job opportunities and checkmating increasing capital flight out of the economy.
“Currently more than 90 per cent of vessels operating in Nigeria carry out their dry docking services overseas fretting away the much needed foreign exchange at great cost to the country, When fully operational, the facility generate wealth and create employment for the maritime industry as well as check capital flight”, he said.
The DG was accompanied on the project evaluation and inspection visit by members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport and House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration as part of their oversight functions.
According to him, a modular floating dockyard of the kind the agency is building in Netherlands and Romania apart from boosting ship repair capacity of the country has the potential to transform Nigeria’s economy.
Regional Director for Africa in Damen, Harm Blaauw, who spoke during the meeting, had said that the company is proud to handle this historic project which he described as the most modern high tech floating dock globally in recent times with capacity to dry dock several hundreds of vessels per annum..
Meanwhile, chairman of NIRDA, Sabi Bar Noy, while speaking at the meeting, said NIMASA made the right decision by embarking on the floating dock project and that the established positive business case supports the initiative.
He promised that NIRDA and its technical partner Damen will fast track the construction and delivery of the floating dock by next year.