Marine Engineers rue economic loss, capital flight to lack of shipbuilding yards

The Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture (MENA) division of the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE) has bemoaned the nation’s huge economic loss over lack of shipbuilding yards in the country.

MENA raised this concern through its Chairman, Navy Capt. Dominic Onabajo (rtd) at the 3rd annual conference of the division with the theme “Development of Marine Structure in the Nigerian Economy, Challenges and the Way Forward” on Tuesday.

Onabajo said the nation has lost money running into billions of dollars due to lack of shipbuilding yards.

“Nigeria has lost an unquantifiable amount of dollars to lack of shipyards, we are losing every time. What is our own market share of this multi-billion dollar shipping business? How come countries like Vietnam and Malaysia are shipbuilding nation’s with many shipbuilding yards while Nigeria is yet to lay it’s first keel of ocean going merchant ships?” he asked rhetorically.

Onabajo said the inability of the country to operate shipbuilding yards has also encouraged capital flight and non-participation of indigenous ship owners in carriage of local cargoes.

“Truly, the lack of shipbuilding yards in Nigeria has dealt a devastating blow to our economy. It has led to capital flight arising from the purchase of new and second hand ships outside our shores.

“Today, there are well over 50,000 ships trading internationally with none of these ships built in Nigeria, new shipbuilding orders for this year alone in the shipbuilding sub-sector globally runs into billions of dollars with Nigeria not getting anything from it,” he stated even as he advised the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to properly manage the newly established shipyard and dockyard at Okerenkoko, Delta State.

“The reminiscent of the ugly experience with Nigerdock must have taught us some good lessons. So the mistake of the past must not rob off on this new project,” he warned, adding that there should be “proper management of the project from the execution stage through to the completion and throughout its operational life in other to avoid a setback.”

Onabajo disclosed that MENA had taken the lead in domesticating international codes and standards for the better of the industry.

“Domesticating existing international codes and standards for the industry is already a work in progress, we are already working through the Nigerian Society of Engineers (NSE), the council for the Regulation of Engineering in Nigeria (COREN) and the Standard Organization of Nigeria,” he said.