FG To Make Nigeria West African Maritime Hub | Independent Newspapers Limited
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FG To Make Nigeria West African Maritime Hub

Posted: Sep 14, 2016 at 12:45 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Andrew Utulu.


LAGOS – The Federal government has stated its resolve to make Nigeria the maritime and oil and gas hubs in the West African sub-region.

Hadiza Bala-Usman, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said this recently during a facility tour of the Lagos Deep Offshore Logistics (LADOL) base in Apapa  pilotage area.

She said the move had become necessary considering the potential of the country as a major maritime player globally.

The NPA boss made the remark in response to a call by her host, Dr. Amy Jadesimi, Managing Director of LADOL, urging government to urgently address the lingering issue of a level playing ground for operators in the industry.

Bala -Usman said the government was aware of the need to facilitate local content drive in the industry as a way to create jobs in the country, and in the interest of the nation’s economy.

“We will look at all issues as they relate to making Nigeria a hub. We will ensure that there is transparency and accountability in the port operations system in a way that all ports related businesses will strive within the marine environment.

“We have visited and I must say that I am particularly impressed at the level of investments here. I am impressed at your move to boost local content in the industry…We really need to bring in local content strongly in order to ensure employment for our people of Nigeria,” she said.

The NPA Managing Director was accompanied by her management team among them were  the Executive Director, Marine and Operations, Engr. Davies Sekonte; Executive Director, Engineering and Technical Services, Idris Abubakar; and other top management staff.

Earlier,  LADOL boss took the visiting team on a tour of the yard where the first ever fabrication of a $3.8 billion  floating production storage and offloading vessel, otherwise known as Egina project was taking place at the LADOL base.

She said: “This project is first of its kind in Africa…and siting it at an indigenous facility like LADOL speaks volumes of our national resolve and determination to take our pride of place as the regional hub’.

According to her, the vessel with a length of 340 meters and 70 meters wide had reached an advanced stage of completion as the entire project had already gulped more than $4 billion dollars and LADOL had put $500 million on local content.

“We started development in 2004 when we got the first lease from NPA…and our mission and vision have been to see a situation where Nigeria will join its foreign counterparts such as Korea, China in creating industrial zones that will take us to the future.

“We look forward to moving Nigeria forward along the line of other developed countries of the world where private indigenous development is key to economic growth. It makes sense because Nigeria has a huge market for this, going by the population.

Jadesimi,  therefore, appealed to the port management to not only ensure a level playing ground for all operators to coexist, but also ensure what she called, “local collaboration between private sectors and between the private sectors and public sector.

“What we are seeing in the private sector for now is the ‘zero sum game’ mainly because historically we have had a situation whereby there is a very small market and everybody is fighting to have a 100% control of the small market.

“Local collaboration is what you see in South Korea whereby one company is supporting 100 other companies because they all know that to be able to attract the level of business that will develop the entire country; they all need to work together,” she said.

She noted that LADOL had since keyed into this model hence it embarked on local fabrication as a way of creating jobs, and adding value to the economy. “So the idea behind LADOL is to do what has been successfully done in China, which is to create an industrial free zone that enables us to prove to the world that you can economically support the largest project in the world such as this Egina FPSO project in Nigeria.

“Once you do that, you then have a situation where people are happy to work here, do business here all at cost saving operations because it is cheaper to have Nigerians work here than to hire foreigners, she added.

“Our prayers are that government should continue to support private investments such as LADOL because no foreigner can love Nigeria more than Nigerians. We appeal to the Managing Director of NPA to, therefore, see the need to bring all the stakeholders – both private and public –  together in a round table and together we all key into the master plan of how to make Nigeria the West African hub,” she added.

In another development, the NPA boss has expressed dissatisfaction with the deplorable state she found the authority’s floating dock, noting that the equipment could have assisted in keeping hundreds of Nigerians in employment if it was in good condition.

Hadiza Usman made the observation during her tour of the Continental Shipyard, Apapa, Lagos, after being told that the multi-million dollar floating dock, a slipway, two pilot cutters and other vital shipping equipment conservatively valued in billions of Naira, were abandoned by past management, between 2006 and 2010 sequel to port concessioning.

“The floating dock has not been operational since 2010. The then management said pump and valve malfunctioning was the reason the 6,000 tonnes floating dock could not pass its routine test of submerging and emerging”, a senior NPA staff told the MD, pointing out that the routine test which was usually carried out on two major occasions on the dock, namely after routine maintenance and or repairs or before lifting of ship for repairs, inspection or maintenance could therefore not be performed until some of the parts got bad.

Highlighting that past management failed to ensure it remained functional, the staff further explained that if equipment were in good condition, not fewer than 2000 to 4,500 workers would be engaged aside from higher revenue which the authority would have also attracted.