By Sulaimon Salau
Nigeria as a maritime nation has lost fortunes to the collapse of the Nigerian National Shipping Line (NNSL) about 13 years ago.The Executive Governor of Edo State, Godwin Obaseki, disclosed this in Onne, Rivers State, during the official christening of the nation’s latest addition to the Nigerian ‘fleet’, the MV OSANYAMO, built by the STARZS Group and delivered by the Damen Ship Yard.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has implored the private sector to take advantage of the enabling environment and invest in the nation’s maritime sector.Obaseki said that with the sad demise of the national shipping line, the country lost and had since continued to forfeit several economic and human development opportunities.
He therefore expressed sincere desire to see the nation’s capacity building institutions synergize, in the bid to boost employment opportunities and consequently improve the citizens’ present economic conditions.He described the shipping terrain in Nigeria, not only as “scary” but also seriously dominated by foreign operators.
Obaseki commended the STARZS Group Chairman, and arrowhead of the Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Greg Ogbeifun for his dedication, commitment and resourcefulness, particularly in mobilizing local funds, institutional supports and utilizing same, in a very challenging environment, in a bid to lift Nigeria’s flag as well as boost the employment opportunities for other Nigerians.
He said: “Apart from the brief spell when we had the NNSL which offered Nigerians sea opportunities, in the maritime industry as we know, just like most other assets, that endeavor failed, and as a country we lost that opportunity to build the human capacity and resources to go ahead to dominate”, the Governor stated.Obaseki was worried that the country’s weak economic position had seriously affected not only the nation’s balance of trade, but devastatingly also, the well-being and the future of the youths.
He enjoined the financial sector, the Local Content Board and other institutional bodies to synergize, create more opportunities and ensure a more assured future for Nigerians, particularly in the maritime sector, in the immediate future.
However, Usman said: “In addition to its contribution to the development of the maritime industry in the country, the introduction of MV OSANYAMO has the capacity for oil exploration and production in Nigeria. Regarded as the largest Damen ASD Tug range till date, the ASD Tug 5114 model vessel is purpose built to assist in tanker lifting operations alongside FPSOs in the Gulf of Guinea”, she added.
According to the Managing Director, “At 52.3 meters length, displacing 800 tonnes, a 268sqm deck space, at 5 tonnes load per m, 2 large fuel and water tanks; with transfer capability of 115 tonnes astern and 110 tonnes ahead, two main ABC16 DZC engines delivering 6,700kw powering twin kort nozzle thrusters manufactured by Schottel and additional capabilities like fire-fighting and oil recovery, the MV OSANYAMO is state-of-the-art tug, being a highly maneuverable vessel, fully equipped, for offshore operation.”While congratulating Messrs Starzs Investment Limited for the feat, the Managing Director reiterated the commitment of the NPA at all investors in the nation’s maritime sector, stressing that “Together, we can work to make the sector the pride of Nigeria and the African continent as a whole.”
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