From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
To stem further revenue losses on the idle facility and achieve its purpose of generating employment and income, the House of Representatives has directed the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) to fast track the movement of its idle N50 billion floating dock to its permanent site.
At a reported daily running cost of $10,000 (N3.6 million) since its arrival in the country on June 11, 2019, the facility has cost the agency over N1 billion without generating a dime.
The NIMASA Executive Director, Operations, Rotimi Fasakin, had told the media ahead the agency’s recent maritime awards that the facility was re-evaluated and kept in Lagos over security issues in Delta State, where it was originally conceptualised to permanently dock.
However, the House Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration, which welcomed the floating dock as a good revenue-earning prospect and commended NIMASA for completing work on it, directed the agency to speed up the process of moving it to a permanent site.
Speaking in Lagos during the committee’s oversight visit to NIMASA and tour of some of its facilities, Chairman of the committee, Lynda Ikpeazu, noted: “We were able to see the floating dock; it’s been completed but hasn’t been put to use.
“I urge the DG to ensure he does what needs to be done so that it is moved to a permanent site. We need to get a permanent berth for this huge platform because when fully operational, it would become a very huge revenue earner for Nigeria, because a lot of vessels would be able to dry-dock in-country.”
Similarly, they stressed that for Nigeria’s Integrated Security and Waterways Protection Infrastructure (the Deep Blue Project) to achieve its purpose of stemming piracy and other maritime criminalities, its operations should be free of the undue interference that has ensured illegal bunkering till today.
Satisfied with the facilities, including the recently acquired Special Mission Vessels (SMVs) – DB Abuja and DB Lagos, and the C4i Centre, all under the Deep Blue Project, Ikpeazu stressed that “if we can operate it the way it should be, then we have achieved a lot.
“That is why it is important that the Nigerian factor does not come into play, because if we are talking about bunkering and all that stuff, who actually does bunkering? If you are going to have people that will interfere with the information got from that command, then it doesn’t make sense for us to have spent the money we have spent so far.”
Also, for the investments to worth the effort, she stressed the need for integration and collaboration among the Nigerian Navy, NIMASA, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), and all others with different maritime surveillance and security platforms for different ends.
According to her, “it is very important that all the agencies are integrated. It is not something to be done by a particular agency, the important thing is that we all work together. We are working for Nigeria.
“The issue of piracy can only be addressed if we get our security measures in place, and we just have to ensure that we complete it and not have it like an inchoate project that never ended.”
On his part, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, commended NASS for its continued support to the agency, describing the National Assembly as “our most critical partner in our quest to reposition the maritime sector, because the success of any regulator depends on the enforcement of laws made by the legislators.”