The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said that that the completion of its floating dockyard project would mitigate the challenge of capital flight and make indigenous ship owners more competitive in the global shipping business.

The Director General of the agency, Dr. Dakuku Peterside, who made the projection during an interactive session with maritime journalists in Lagos, said that the facility which would be operated on a Public Private Partnership (PPP) model, with the builders serving as technical partners.

The NIMASA boss explained that when fully operational, indigenous ship owners and their foreign counterparts would no longer need to externally dry dock their vessels such that the country would conserve much foreign exchange on vessels maintenance generally.

Peterside said that when completed, the project would create thousands of jobs and training opportunities for seafarers, students of the Nigerian Maritime University and other maritime institutions in the country.

He enthused: “Nigeria looses up to $100m annually simply because when our shipowners need to dry dock their vessels, they mostly take them to neighboring countries like Ghana and Cameroun thus spending avoidable forex.

“When this facility is fully operational it has the capacity to drydock any vessel incountry and save the much needed foreign exchange.

“We are planning to ensure that the permanent location of this facility would benefit our students for training and we have also engaged the builders to manage the facility for one year period at a Naval facility” while further arrangements are being worked out”, he added.

In addition, the NIMASA boss hinted that the agency was considering a special foreign exchange intervention for vessel parts acquisition and loan repayment processes to enable indigenous operators compete favourably in the global shipping business space.

Peterside explained that the management of the agency had opened discussions with the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) on how best the funding package could be arranged, adding that efforts are also being made towards the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF)..

On the success recorded so far by the agency on its Survey, Inspection & Certification Transformation Programme, Peterside said that 3,752 Certificates of Competency (CoC) were issued in 2017 to successful seafarers, representing about 149 percent higher than the certified trainees in the previous year.

He also said that the number of authenticated certificates for stakeholders last year totalled 1,880 certificates compared to the 1013 CoCs verified in the preceding year.

The industry regulator also disclosed that 2,337 Nigerian seafarers were placed onboard vessels from January to June this year, representing 58.9 percent increase over the seafarers employed in 2016.