Story by Izuchukwu Ozoemena.
A foremost marine engineer and President, Ship Owners Association of Nigeria (SOAN), Engr Greg Ogbeifun, has said that the country needs higher capacity ship repair yards to curb capital flight.
Ogbeifun stated this in Lagos, Tuesday, while delivering a paper titled "The Role of Marine Infrastructure in Sustainable Economic Development: Nigeria in Focus."
He said that it's regrettable that the country cannot boast of a ship yard that can take a 30,000 tonnes oil tanker, adding that vessel owners must leave the country to carry out their dry-docking repairs in countries like Ivory Cioast, Cameroon, Namibia and even South Africa.
“This inadequacy has led to huge capital flight running into millions of dollars which, ordinarily, the sector ought to be contributing to the country’s economy.”
Ogbeifun, who is also the chief executive officer, Starzs Shipyard Ltd, noted that if the potentials of the ship repair sector are properly harnessed, the sector has the capacity to drive technology acquisition, creation of training opportunities of specialized professionals and employment generation.
He challenged the government to develop and make operational the steel industry as it is critical to the establishment and growth of ship- building in Nigeria.
“Our power industry is vital as well. So, government needs to take a holistic view of all these. Companies that have come to develop this sector in Nigeria have been discouraged owing to unfavorable fiscal policies which retards the growth of the industry."
He noted that the economic potentials locked up in the shipping building and repair industry are colossal and the government must copy what other nations such as South Korea are doing to exploit the huge economic potentials.
Said he: “I don’t think government necessarily needs to go and build ship yards. Government should rather engage ongoing private initiatives and find out what their challenges are and see how they can encourage them."