By Godwin Oritse
Management of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, has signed a Memorandum of Under-standing, MoU, on ship building and repairs with the Southern African Shipyards, SAS, in Durban, South Africa after carrying out a fact finding tour of the facilities.
Under the agreement which has NIMASA, SAS, and a subsidiary of the Nigerian Bank of Industry, the Leasing Company of Nigeria, LECON, as partners, Southern African Shipyards will finance the development of modern shipyards in
Nigeria and operate them with the use of Nigerian labour and local content as much as feasible.
The DG, NIMASA, Mr. Temisan Omatseye, stated that the agreement also has provision for marine engineering technology transfer program from South Africa to Nigeria.
The initial workforce for the shipyards are expected to undergo training and skills development at the SAS facility in Durban which according to him, will ultimately lead to the establishment of a train-the-trainer program for more employees to be trained in Nigeria.
NIMASA is expected to facilitate government incentives to ensure the success of the project, encourage the building and maintenance of vessels to be done in Nigeria, and provide a stable and transparent regulatory regime in order to guarantee the sustainable success of the project on a long term basis.
On its part, the Bank of Industry of Nigeria, through LECON, is expected to be the local financial partner of SAS activities in Nigeria.
Omatseye expressed satisfaction at the facilities and technical competence of SAS particularly in the area of ship repairs.
He encouraged the Southern African Shipyards to commence immediate operations in Nigeria by providing ship repair services before graduating to ship building.
He also announced that the agency is committed to providing incentives for any company desirous of investing in Shipyards in Nigeria and SAS will benefit immensely from the program being the pioneer company to invest in the Nigerian ship building and repair industry.
He said: “We have a very vibrant market and I can assure you that the Nigerian market has the potentials to absorb all your services. An example is your colleague from South Africa, the MTN Group who came to Nigeria in 2001.
“We in Nigeria have realised the revenue that will be saved by having a percentage of the vessels on our registry dry-docked in country.
“Our partnership will be symbiotic in nature and I can assure you that NIMASA will provide the enabling environ-ment to ensure safety of your investment.
“We have some govern-ment dockyards which are to be operated on commercial basis and you will be invited to look at the possibility of collaboration in the immediate future on a public private sector partnership arrangement to modernise the shipyards and put it to optimum use.”
Mr. Omatseye noted that NIMASA desires to develop the ship repair capability in the country at the moment while looking at the construction of ocean-going vessels in the not too distance future, adding that the Nigerian maritime sector is key to the develop-ment of the economy.
Managing Director of South African Ship-yards, SAS, Louis Gontier, said the MoU is in line with his company’s vision of developing an African footprint.
Mr. Gontier noted that Nigeria has both human and natural resources to grow a sustainable shipyard industry.
, gave an assurance that SAS which is the Largest shipyard in Southern Africa seeks to transfer technological impact onto the Nigerian market. We hope to achieve 40% operations in Nigeria within the next one year, he said.