NIMENA Laments Decaying Maritime Assets
The Nigerian Institution of Marine Engineers and Naval Architects has flayed the high level of decay and outdated assets in the nation’s maritime industry, saying that the industry offers huge opportunities for the country to harness and shore up its Gross Domestic Product.
The National Chairman, NIMENA , Henry Unuigbe, said this during the seventh annual conference of the association with the theme: ‘Transforming the maritime sector: To make greater Impact on Economic Development of Nigeria.’
He explained that Nigeria was unarguably an important maritime nation that had not been able to take full advantage of the industry potential to grow it to the benefit of the citizenry.
Unuigbe said Nigerian shipowners were plagued with outdated maritime assets and limited access to capital, adding that those among them who managed to acquire vessels did so at a double-digit interest arrangement that would likely end on a sad note.
He noted that ships remained important assets in maritime activities, advising that Nigeria must leverage its position as a maritime nation by taking strategic steps to stimulate growth in the industry.
He said, “There is no doubt that this has greatly hindered development and growth in the industry. The challenge Nigerian shipowners face in this regard accounts for why we are not building ships.
“While it is acknowledged that investment in shipbuilding is humongous, the government must create the enabling environment, including putting sustainable policies in place in order to attract investment in this area.”
He said ship repair yards were essential parts of the infrastructure needed to support the shipping industry, lamenting that the infrastructure was presently insufficient and not capable of meeting the industry’s demand.
He stated that existing infrastructure in and around the nation’s seaports had been seriously challenged with its attendant impact on the efficiency of port operations.
Unuigbe added that, for a long time, maritime security around the Gulf of Guinea attracted global attention with a more alarming situation in Nigeria, given the prevalence of piracy, kidnapping and hijacking on the high seas.
He stressed that such incidences had made Nigeria an unattractive destination for ships resulting in either rejection or diversion of Nigerian-bound cargoes to other destinations or increase in the cost of transportation of cargoes.
He said to address this ugly trend, Nigeria must put in place a robust maritime security architecture.
An associate professor in the Department of Maritime Management, Federal University of Owerri, Dr Obed Ndikom, while delivering his paper titled:‘Improving security in the Nigerian maritime environment,’ said maritime piracy was a serious threat around the world, adding that over the past two decades, it had been a troubling experience within Nigeria and one of the legitimate threats to international trade.
He said maritime security challenges had so far constituted a negative effect on Nigeria’s fishing industry, leading to loss of lives and property, loss in revenue, hijacking of vessels while also putting the Nigerian economy at risk.
Ndikom listed some of the factors responsible for the rising cases of piracy to include the proliferation of small arms and light weapons, rising unemployment and poverty and weak capacity of the security agencies in Nigeria.