The Marine Engineering and Naval Architecture has called for caution in the execution of the Nigerian Maritime and Safety Administration Agency shipyard and dockyard project in Warri.
The Chairman of the association, Mr. Dominic Onabanjo, said this at the 3rd annual MENA conference and Annual General Meeting of the group in Lagos on Tuesday.
MENA is a division of the Nigerian Society for Engineers.
The conference had as its theme, ‘The development of marine structures in the Nigerian economy: challenges and the way forward.’
Onabanjo said, “Although it is a laudable project, there must be proper management of the project from the execution stage up to its completion and throughout its operational life to avoid setbacks.
“Some lessons must be learnt from the ugly experience we had with the NigerDock so as not to repeat the mistakes of the past.”
President Goodluck Jonathan had a few months ago inaugurated the Nigeria’s first specialised university for maritime studies and the NIMASA dockyard and shipyard, at Okerenkoko in Warri, Delta State.
The NIMASA dockyard and shipyard, also at Okerenkoko, is expected to build and maintain various sizes of vessels.
Onabanjo also lamented the loss of revenue due to the absence of shipbuilding yards in the country.
He said ship owners were forced to spend millions to purchase new and used ships outside the country.
He said, “Our inability to operate shipbuilding yards has resulted in the non-participation of indigenous ship owners in the carriage of local cargoes. Over 50,000 ships are trading internationally, none is built in Nigeria.
“This is multi-billion dollar shipping business that Nigeria has yet to advantage of. Countries like Vietnam and Malaysia are shipbuilding nations, with many shipbuilding yards yet Nigeria has not laid its first keel of ocean going merchant ships.”
He advised NIMASA to properly manage the shipyard and dockyard project.
Onabanjo added that there was not enough qualified manpower to provide the necessary knowledge and training at the Nigerian Maritime University.
Some of the universities being supported by NIMASA to offer marine engineering courses were said not to have the required lecturers.
He said, “While we commend the government’s decision to establish maritime universities and specailised courses in some Nigerian universities, we are worried that the required manpower to support this initiative is insufficient.”
Onabanjo said though the group was willing to contribute its quota to the laudable initiative, the Director-General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, had snubbed their efforts. Akpobolokemi, who was absent at the event, had been scheduled to be the guest of honour.