The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has called for the regulation of the ship building industry to maintain standards that would enable it adopt world class classification.
General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Joseph Ororo, stated this at a virtual Maritime Business roundtable meeting on Ship Building and Repairs in Lagos on Thursday.
Ororo said while most of the vessels acquired by the Authority were built locally to encourage the industry, ship building and repairs is still in the infancy stage in the country because it has not been regulated as it ought to be.
He said, “There are some levels of boat and barge building in the Niger Delta region but unfortunately, it is not regulated, no standard procedure, nothing, and this has to stop. If Nigeria builds below standards, or not approved by classification specifications, it will be counterproductive and so we need to go back to the days of Nigerdock building ships.”
“Regulation of the sector is not to make money but to lead to improvement, acquire skills and technology that will help the industry,” Ororo said, noting that any industry not regulated could not make meaningful progress.
“The purpose of regulation is to set standards and this will ensure the sector has clients from outside the country,” he added.
Representative of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Augustine Imhomoh, while speaking on ways the agency would aid ship building and repairs, noted that the NIMASA floating dry dock was key for ship repairs.
He said Nigeria would welcome any form of arrangement with the Namibia Drydock and Ship Repairs (NAMDOCK) to help establish ship building and repairs in the country.
“The acquired floating dry dock by NIMASA meant for ship repairs will also generate employment opportunities, build human capacity, help the maritime image of the country and also reduce capital flight.
“NIMASA is also encouraging joint ventures for ship building, Public-Private-Partnership and establishment of maritime funds meant for the promotion of ship building and repairs in the country,” he said.
In his contribution, Commodore Michael Igwe of the Naval Dockyard pointed out that Nigeria has not domesticated its classification body as they still go outside the country to get approval.
He added that the naval dockyard carries out fabrication locally but desires to have an opportunity to construct merchant vessels in the country.
Earlier in his remarks, foremost shipowner and Managing Director / CEO Starzs Marine and Engineering Limited, Engr. Greg Ogbeifun, appealed to the government to give support to the shipbuilding and ship repairs industry to generate revenue and curb youth unemployment in the country.
“In Nigeria, there has been no official support,” Ogbeifun said noting that despite the number of Nigerian-owned vessels in addition to the growing numbers of foreign trading ships annually visiting the country, government is yet to ensure the presence of any standard shipbuilding/ repair yard, hence forcing operators to go elsewhere to source and pay for such services.
While urging the government to be proactive by creating a business- friendly environment for the industry to thrive, Ogbeifun said countries such as South Africa and Namibia are reaping huge benefits from the support they offered their ship building industry.