Fresh facts have emerged on why the multi billion naira floating dock acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has continued to rot away at the Naval dockyard in Lagos.
The floating dock acquired at a whopping sum of N50 billion has remained idle since it arrived the country on June 11, 2018.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Friday, the Director General of NIMASA, Dakuku Peterside, said the major reason why the floating dock has not commenced operation is because the agency has not secure an operational berthing space for the dock.
According to Dakuku, the Naval dockyard where the floating dock is currently situated is only serving as a storage berthing space where operation of a floating dock facility could not be carried out.
He said the intention of NIMASA, as at the time the floating dock was acquired, was to deploy it to Okerenkoko in Delta State but based on reports by experts coupled with security challenges in the region, the agency decided to situate it in Lagos.
He said, “Originally, it was designed to berth in Delta State but even at that time, there were lots of reports advising to the contrary. Those reports are still there till date. When we got here, we were forced to review all these reports and make a decision that we think will serve the best interest of the country and the shipping community. That is very foundation of the issue.
“So based on the series of reports, the company that built it and another company that we engaged believed that there are grey issues that needed to be sorted out. We all agreed that based on the advice of all the experts, what make sense is to locate it in Lagos until such a time a final decision will be reached on it.
“In Lagos, we are following due process on the operating berthing place. What we have now is a storage berthing place. We believe that will conclude very soon before the end of the year and we will commence operation at the operating location.”
Also speaking, NIMASA’s Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Rotimi Fashaki, confirmed an exclusive report by SHIPS & PORTS that the agency is paying a whopping $30,000 (N9,210,000) daily as wharfage charges on the floating dock.
He said the agency is only a regulator and giving the floating dock to operators who are versed in that area will also need to go through government bureaucratic process.
“The floating dock is a government asset and it is not something you can just throw to an operator. NIMASA is a regulator, not an operator. So giving to operators who are versed in that area also needs a process when you know about the bureaucracy of government.
“If you know the complexity of a floating dock and the draft you need to keep it and operate it, one will need about 12 metres of draft. The contractor was spending over $30,000 keeping it for many months. We have to pay so many months demurrage on that. Eventually, we reached a situation in which we had to have a kind of agreement with the Naval Holdings limited, which is a subset of the Nigerian Navy.
“We are still looking forward to having a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in which we will have an operator operating the floating dock. The initial assessment report shows that if the floating dock is operated as it is, with the graving dock owned by the Navy, it may imperil the graving dock.
“The Naval Holdings Limited then suggested another spot where we could use. A consultant was appointed to assess that spot and the report of the consultant is that there will be need to do some dredging at that spot where we can now operate it,” he said.