By Kenneth Jukpor
The tour of the House of Representatives Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration ended without the committee taking a position to address the challenges facing the jettisoned floating dock owned by the Nigerian Maritime Administation and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
The legislative team visited the floating dock during a tour of the Deep Blue Project security apparatus including the Command, Control Computer Communication Information (C4i) centre, special mission vessels, among others, as part of its oversight function yesterday.
While the Chairman of the committee, Hon. Linda Ikpeazu urged NIMASA to convert the floating dock into an asset, she didn’t give any insight into what strategy could see the floating dock become a profitable venture for the agency and the nation at large.
The floating dock became a conduit pipe draining the agency’s fund with $30,000 spent daily for the berthing space at the Naval dockyard for over a year, amounting to over $10.9 million.
Although NIMASA revealed earlier this year that it reached an agreement with the Navy Holdings Limited to accommodate the N50 billion asset, the floating dock is yet to actualize the economic gains and operational benefits it was acquired for.
After the tour, the Committee converged at the NIMASA headquarters where they were expected to take a position on the floating dock, however, Hon. Ikpeazu simply described the project as a good one.
“The floating dock has been completed but it hasn’t been put to use. I’ve urged the Director General of NIMASA to make sure he does what needs to be done. Obviously, where it is located right now it can’t work. They need to move the platform to a permanent location where the water is deeper and the area is prepared for it to operate. That floating dock is a very good project and it would bring a lot of revenue” she said.
According to her, the floating dock would enhance the agency’s position as one of the revenue generating agencies in the country, hence the project is of interest to the committee and the maritime community.
On the Deep Blue project, she expressed satisfaction on the two Special Mission vessels and other gadgets already in the country, however she stressed that the menace of piracy wouldn’t be addressed without inter-agency collaboration.
Despite having the Command, Control Computer Communication Information (C4i) centre which serves as a comprehensive surveillance system, she noted that NIMASA would have to collaborate with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Navy and other agencies with similar projects.
“If we can operate the C4i centre the way it should, we have something very special. That is why it is important that the Nigerian factor doesn’t come into play. When we talk about bunkering and other activities on the waters, you can be sure that people would want to interfere with the information coming from the C4i centre. It doesn’t make sense for us to have spent the money invested so far if the system would be abused. It is very important that all the relevant agencies are integrated,” she said.
She refused to delve into specifics on several aspects of NIMASA’s activities, asserting that the visit which was the Committee’s maiden visit to NIMASA was simply an overview of the agency’s activities.
Earlier, the Director General of NIMASA, Dr. Dakuku Peterside stressed that the National Assembly was very crucial to the agency’s quest to deliver on its mandate in the nation’s maritime sector.
He commended the Committee for the massive support it had given the agency in the last two months, noting that the support was a demonstration that the team had the interest of the nation at heart.
“The National Assembly is our most critical partner in our quest to reposition the maritime sector because the success of any regulator depends on the enforcement of laws made by the legislators. We crave your continued support so that we can continue to deliver on our mandate to the Nigerian people,” Dakuku said.
Other members of the committee on the tour included Kabiru Idris, Gambo Mubarak, Bamisili Oluwafemi Richard, Ajilesor Abimbola Taofeek, Samson Okwu, Magaji Amos Gwamna, and Victor Nwokolo. Others were Abubakar Abdullahi Ahmad, Muktar Aliyu Betara, Abdullahi Idris Garba, Wole Oke, Nasiru Sanni Zango Daura, Yusuf Ahmad Tijani, Bassey Ewa and Olumide Osoba.