By Godwin Oritse
NIGERIAN shipowners have abandoned ship repair facilities and other dockyards in Nigeria for Ghanaian dockyard, a development that has further worsened the issue of capital flight from Nigeria.
Disclosing this to Vanguard recently, Managing Director of Luxem Energy Limited Mr . Jonathan Irafor said that Nigerian shipowners have preference for Ghanaian dockyard because of the modern equipment Ghanaians use in carrying out repair works on vessels.
Irafor stated that ship repairs in Nigeria takes a much longer time than what is obtained in Ghana adding that it could take as much as three to four months to carry out repair works on a vessel in Nigeria, while it takes between two and four weeks in Ghana.
He decried the obsolete ship repair equipment in most Nigerian ship repair yards which has made most of them (indigenous shipowners) stay away from these ship repair yards in Nigeria.
He also stated that the ship repair facilities in Nigeria are not enough and there is need to increase the number.
“One other area the government can come in is the area of establishing new dockyards across the country, in addition to creating a platform for local players to acquire vessels.
‘Most of our vessels in Nigeria go to Ghana for repairs and dry docking, the Naval dockyard, Nigerdock and the Starz dock yards are not enough to meet the needs of Nigerian shipowners.
“At the Naval dockyard, if you go there, you spend three to four months for you to leave that dock, the equipment are not up to date so most of the vessel owners go to Ghana to dock their vessel and that is another area of capital flight”.
He lamented the low level of education of Nigerian seafarers and the technical skills of marine technicians a development that has impacted negatively on the local marine industry.
His words “The locals do not even know what they are doing, the locals do not even understand the job, they are not properly trained, that is why I told you that the first thing is to go back to school.
“Bring the schools up to standard because of the certificate some locals in Nigeria are obtained from Ghana.
“I will prefer to buy a vessel and put foreigners as crew members because I will be more comfortable with that kind of arrangement and because I will have value for my money and sleep better than when Nigerians are put on board as crew men”.
There are about four ship repair yards in Nigeria namely Naval Dockyard in Lagos, Starz Maritime Services in Port-Harcourt River State, Niger Dock on Snake Island in and Continental Shipyard Limited in Apapa Lagos currently being managed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and some foreign partners.