By Seun Ibiyemi
In about 10 months after its purchase, a N50 billion floating dock facility acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has been abandoned in Lagos water, investigation by our correspondent has revealed.
Nigerian News-Direct gathered that the multi-billion naira floating dock facility remains idle at the Naval Dockyard in Lagos as the apex agency remains confused on when the facility will begin operations.
Recall that NIMASA had in June 11, 2018 taken delivery of the much-touted floating dock, which it said would help boost ship repair capacity, generate wealth and create employment for Nigerians.
According to a report, the abandoned floating dock facility is costing taxpayers about N3.6 million daily (over N100 million monthly) in running cost.
The Director-General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside in a text message said he will revert to Nigerian NewsDirect question on why the facility has been abandoned by federal government.
He has not responded to Nigerian NewsDirect question while the agency’s spokesman, Isichei Osamgbi did not respond as well before filing this report.
Hitherto, industry stakeholders who spoke on the development, however, expressed concerns that NIMASA has shrouded the ill-advised acquisition of the floating dock and huge daily maintenance cost in secrecy.
The immediate past President, Shipowners Association of Nigerian (SOAN), Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, attributed the idleness of the N50 billion facility to lack of due diligence by NIMASA.
He said, “It would have been a big help if the floating dock was put to work but the whole thing is just shrouded in secrecy. I do not think that enough due diligence was done before that dock was procured.
“It is not just enough to acquire a floating dock; that is just a fraction of the requirement. Operating a dock and getting it to function is even more critical than owning one, and I think that is where NIMASA is right now.
“As it stands now, nobody is talking about ´where do we take this dock to, where do we operate it from, who is going to operate it and which market are they targeting?’
“Will the shipowners be safe to operate their vessels from where the floating dock will be located considering the security situation in the country at the moment who is going to be the main workforce? Is NIMASA into partnership with any experienced local or international entity that will operate and run the dock?
“Except these questions are addressed, no sensible shipowner will risk taking their vessel for dry docking on the facility.”
Ogbeifun, who lamented the huge investment NIMASA had committed in acquiring the floating dock, expressed fear that the facility may turn out to be “another white elephant” if not immediately put to use as shipowners will continue to patronise ship repair and dry dock facilities outside the country.
Maritime Union laments NIMASA’s failure to renew dockworkers, seafarers biometric identity cards
The Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) has called on the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to renew the biometric identity cards of members of the seafarers and dockworkers branches of the union.
President General of MWUN, Comrade Adewale Adeyanju who disclosed this at the Dockworkers Branch Working Committee (BWC) of the union held in Lagos, maintained that dockworkers in recent times are peace loving people who will always ensure industrial harmony in the port operations but must not be taken for granted by any group of persons in the industry.
Adeyanju accused some of the port concessionaires for engaging the services of unregistered dockworkers, warning that the union would be forced to tour some of the erring facilities in a bid to apply “Option B” tactics.
He described the practice of engaging unregistered workers by terminal operators as unprofessional, noting that the union will not hesitate to clamp down on such persons.
“We want NIMASA to renew our biometric identity card because for about four years down the line we are yet to renew the biometric for dockworkers because it has expired.
“All dockworkers, including seafarers Nigeria seaports are well registered and we are appealing to them to renew the biometric.” he added.
According to him, the union will further alert security agencies to ensure that the unregistered workers are apprehended.
“The union lamented that unregistered workers have been taking the jobs meant for legitimate dockworkers and that the union is no longer comfortable with such practice in port operations.
The labour union further disclosed that it might be forced to address the issues through an operation codename “Option B” if the relevant government authority fails to yield to their demand immediately.
He also frowned at government negligence on the Apapa Oshodi expressway linking the port corridors, even as he pointed that the union could spring surprises over the last ultimatum issued for the authority to fix the failed portion of the road.
It would be recalled that NIMASA under its erstwhile Director-General, Mr. Temi Omatseye, the dockworkers biometric identity card project was initiated.
The initiative was lauded by stakeholders, notably the leadership and membership of the Dockworkers Branch of the MWUN, who unanimously declared that the biometric identity card gave them a sense of belonging that they had not felt since the ports concession programme took effect in 2006.