Strong indications emerged that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency NIMASA, has taken delivery of its long awaited modular floating dock, touted to be the fifth largest in Africa.

It was gathered that the facility berthed on Nigeria’s waters late Monday, having sailed from Netherlands.

However, there has not been any official confirmation to this effect, as the Deputy Director of the agency in charge of Corporate Communications; Mr. Isichei Osamgbi could not be reached on phone for confirmation at press time.

The modular floating dockyard project was initiated in 2013 while actual construction work started in 2014 but was stagnated and started again in 2016 due budget disruptions. 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.

The Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, had told newsmen recently that budget delays and disruptions were responsible for the delay in the completion of the facility, country to expectations that it would be delivered by the end of 2017 as earlier projected.

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 DG had told members of the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Education, Safety and Administration that the agency had paid a whopping N9billion from the 2017 budget, which probably facilitated the delivery of the facility, which will address the problem of capital flight arising from the absence of such facility in the country.