…Say Facility Almost Derelict.
The Association of Marine Engineers and Surveyors, AMES, has raised the alarm over the seeming abandonment of ₦50 billion Floating Drydock acquired in 2018 by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA but yet to be deployed for the purpose for which it was acquired.
A floating drydock, according to AMES, is a submersible platform specifically designed and used for repair of vessels which can be navigated to the location of a disabled vessel at sea, carry the vessel, and navigate back to base where it can then be repaired and restored to service.
The AMES, while acknowledging at a press conference in Lagos on Tuesday, that the acquisition of the dry dock, christened MFDP NIMASA, was a sound decision based on the drive to develop the maritime industry infrastructure, however expressed concern that three years after, it was yet to be put to use and is presently moored at the Naval Docktard, Commodore Pool, Victoria Island, Lagos.
President of AMES, Adeyinka Okunade, in a statement titled “Re: NIMASA Floating Drydock – Why Government Ought to Act Now Before the Facility Becomes Derelect,” lamented that the dock was now three years at this location “and rusting away as a result of the treacherous sea-like weather conditions at the Naval Dockyard berth”.
Enumerating the cost of the abandonment, Okunade said “According to Ships and Ports report of 3rd April, 2019, the Floating Drydock cost ₦50 billion to acquire; over ₦3.6 million in daily expenses; and US$30,000 per day as berthing charges to the Nigerian Navy”.
Wondering why NIMASA would choose the Naval Dockyard and not the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA a sister agency which already has a dedicated berth for a Floating Drydock, AMES described the development as “avoidable wastage in terms of not only humongous expenses but safety of the Floating Drydock itself, and the potential environmental pollution that may occur”
Regretting the implication of the state of affairs, Okunade noted that having been constructed in 2016 by DAMEN SHIPYARD of Netherlands, “the MFDP NIMASA is now already due for its Renewal Class Survey, which has not been carried out, and as a result, the dock has been withdrawn from Class”. He said “By implication therefore, the dock could not have been insured”. He posited that the floating dock “is now seriously becoming a DERELICT”.
The association said it was worried about the situation and decided to draw the attention of the federal government to it because it would not want the Floating Drydock to go the way of other national assets like the Ajaokuta Steel Rolling Mill, and others that were abandoned after huge investments on them.
AMES therefore called on the federal government to, through the minister of transportation, order NIMASA and NPA “to synergise and commission the MFDP NIMASA onto operation immediately” moreso as the NPA has a fit-for-purpose berth and backup yard with workshop facilities at Apapa which it claimed is lying waste.
It also recommended that the Floating Drydock be handed over to a Maritime engineering company that specializes in ship repairs and maintenance to operate it profitably.
AMES believed that if operational, the drydock would solve the perennial dilemma faced by indigenous ship owners and vessel operators in complying with the statutory requirement to drydock their vessels, as well as generate employment in the Maritime industry.
Apparently frustrated by its inability to get audience with NIMASA DG to interact with him on the issue, AMES decided to go public.
Okunade explained that “we have made a couple of attempts to even see the Director General of NIMASA but one thing or the other, we have not received an invitation to see him…No response at all, but we are still waiting. But for now, we have decided to put this in the know of government and Nigerians”.
The Association feared that the issue had reached such a critical stage whereby something has to be done. Recalling the fate that befell the NPA drydock, AMES stated that “This is how we delayed decision-making to the extent that the floating dock in the NPA sank at one stage, and had to be restored, and then had to be jettisoned somewhere. We are fast approaching a similar situation… where something has to be done”.
Earlier in his welcome address, John Oguntokun, first vice president of AMES, underscored the significance of the press conference stating that the issue they would be presenting, was “very crucial. It’s burning so much in our hearts that we have an asset that we cannot use; that is rusting away”.
Also present at the press briefing were Emmanuel Ilori, second vice president, Josiah Wasa, general secretary, Israel Obadan, treasurer, amongst other members of the AMES executive.
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