The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has reportedly paid the sum of N13.5billion as wharfage charges for a floating dock, which it bought for N50 billion three years ago.
Wharfage is the fee charged to cover the cost of using a wharf. It includes the cost of nocking unto the dock electricity and maintenance service since a ship cannot be locked up and abandoned like a car.
Daily Trust on Sunday said it gathered from a senior management source at the agency that NIMASA paid around $30,000 daily as wharfage charges and other expenses which amounts to $32.9million in three years.
The newspaper said the floating dock has remained idle since it arrived in the country on June 11, 2018 at the Nigerian Navy Dockyard, Lagos.
A former executive director of operations at NIMASA Rotimi Fashakin had explained that insecurity in the Niger Delta region made it difficult for the agency to berth the dock at Okerenkoko as originally conceptualised.
He said, “Indeed, the floating dock was supposed to go to Okerenkoko in Delta State, but with the conditions that exist now, it is almost impossible. A dock is supposed to serve the shipping community as a commercial facility, but which company or vessel would be bold enough to travel to Delta State?”
“The other thing was getting a place to berth it. If you know the complexity of a floating dock, the draft you need to keep and operate it is 12 meters. The contractor was spending over $30,000 keeping the dock afloat for many months, and we had to pay many months demurrage on that. Eventually, we reached a situation where we had an agreement with Naval Holdings Limited, a sub-sect of the Nigerian Navy, to keep the dock,” he added.
NIMASA had acquired the modular floating dockyard to save the Federal Government over $100m annually and about $1 billion in 10 years from the huge cost of dry-docking outside Nigeria. But that has not materialised.
Reacting to this, chairman, board of trustees, Nigerian Ship Owners Association (NISA) Isaac Jolapamo said those behind the purchase of the modular floating dock should be prosecuted.
“If the NIMASA had procured the floating dock the way it was scheduled from the beginning, there won’t be this confusion. This is the outright misappropriation of public funds. You cannot develop the shipping sector on a political platform. There is no wisdom in the decision to own a dock. The government is losing money. And in a sane country, those behind it would have been in jail by now,” he said.
A spokesman for NIMASA Edward Osagie, however, denied the allegation of the payment of $30,000 wharfage.
“We have men on board 24 hours, so the issue about the payment of $30,000 wharfage is a lie. The agency has also gotten an outline building case compliance certificate from the ICRC. The agency is also working with the timeline given to it by the ICRC to identify and engage satisfactory managing partners for the dock,” he said.