By Godwin Oritse
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, and the Nigerian Navy have set up a joint committee with a mandate to develop aÂ workable framework for a public-private partnership towards commercialising the Naval Dockyard in Lagos.
NIMASAâ€™s Director-General, Mr Temisan Omatseye who inaugurated the joint committee, described it as a practical step towards addressing the challenges of critical maritime infrastructure, which he said was the major factor hindering the countryâ€™s capacity to optimise the nationâ€™s huge economic potentials.
He noted that such public-private partnership model involving the Navy, Maritime Administration and the Private sector for commercial services already exist and functioning effectively in Ghana and India.
Mr Omatseye restated NIMASAâ€™s commitment to the upgrading, expansion and modernization of the Naval Dockyard facilities to provide competitive service to the shipping community on commercial basis.
He also commended the Nigerian Navy for accepting to partner NIMASA and the private sector in developing shipping in Nigeria.
He described it as a demonstration of the commitment of the Naval high command to the development of the Nigerian maritime sector through purposeful collaboration adding that the success of the project will greatly enhance the Cabotage regime in Nigeria.
In his words: â€œWe are convinced that if we succeed in this project, the impact and outcome will have far reaching implications on Nigeriaâ€™s maritime fortune, especially in the realization of the policy objectives of the Cabotage.â€
The Chief of Planning, Nigerian Navy, Rear Admiral Sylvester Umorsen who led the Navy delegation to the meeting, said that since the Naval Dockyard was established in Apapa decades ago, no major infrastructure development has taken place.
He announced that the Ministry of Defence has already approved the NIMASA/Navy upgrading/commercialization project.
He described the dockyard as a big asset that is being underutilised at the moment, adding that facilities there are much more than what is on ground at the Snake island. Rear Admiral Umorsen announced that the Navy decided to collaborate with NIMASA in the interest of commercial shipping in Nigeria.
While describing the partnership as a move in the right direction, the Naval ChiefÂ also disclosedÂ that the Navy will be willing to allow its dockyard in Port Harcourt to follow the same model if the Lagos collaboration works.
Collaboration between the Nigerian Navy and NIMASA aimed at partnering the private sector under the public-private partnership model for upgrading, expansion and modernization of the Naval dockyard to provide services on commercial basis.
While the dockyard managers will neither be NIMASA nor the Navy, both will work together and upgrade the facility to international standard.A technical survey/audit of the dockyard is to be carried out soon to assess its true potentials.