The Alumni of Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron (AMANO), has faulted the call for the relocation of the multimillion-naira floating dock acquired by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to the Niger Delta region.
Two Niger Delta groups – Pan-Niger Delta Forum (PANDEF) and the United Niger Delta Energy Development Security Strategy (UNDEDSS) – had recently urged the Federal Government to move the dry dock and install it in Delta State, considering the contributions of the region to the nation’s economy.
“The dry dock is lying fallow in the waters of Lagos State and should be taken to Delta, next to the Maritime University, to provide practical knowledge to the students. The dock, if located in the Niger Delta, will open up the region and make it more viable, including the employment it will generate and the training on ship building processes,” the groups had said in a statement.
But speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, the President of AMANO, Austin Umezurike, said relocating the dry dock to the Niger Delta region without the requisite technical manpower to operate and run it would not serve the purpose for which it was acquired.
He said to ensure efficient utilization, the dry dock must be located in an area where it would be able to generate revenue for the country with the necessary resources to operate efficiently and not just to serve as a training facility.
“The floating dock is not supposed to be solely a training facility. It is supposed to be generating income for the country. We lose a lot of work to neighbouring countries because we don’t have sufficient facilities to repair our vessels. The fact that it is lying idle for a couple of years is very depressing so relocating it to the Niger Delta region is not going to solve the problem.
“While it could be used to provide training opportunities for cadets, has the Maritime University itself taken off? Does it have the required manpower to operate a floating dock? The Maritime University itself is not properly set up because when you look at the school curriculum, they don’t even have the skill set to run a maritime training institution.
“We can’t maintain a floating dock without having the required expertise to manage and run it profitably. If we don’t run it profitably, then it won’t be able to serve its purpose. That is where people tend to miss the point. We need to be able to run it so that it can generate income to be sustaining itself and not for the government to subsidise its operation.
“It needs to be in a place where it can be profitably run and utilized to generate income and solve a lot of problems that we are facing with ship repairs in Nigeria that makes us lose a huge chunk of money to neighbouring countries.
“If the location is in an area where it is difficult to go because of security challenges, water draft restriction; then nobody is going to bring their boats there. Ship repair is not just only about a floating dock.
“It is not possible for it to go to the Niger Delta and be useful more than it can be useful in Lagos. If it is in Lagos, it doesn’t mean it can’t still be used by the students. Wherever they are in any part of the country, they can utilize it for training but it should be kept in a location where it can generate income,” he said.