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Investments in large drydock yards will boost economy’

Drydocking is essential to the shipping subsector. OLUWAKEMI DAUDA writes that for maritime sector to grow, there is the need for the Federal Government to build more of drydocks.

THE importance of drydock yards cannot be over emphasised. Apart from accommodating vessels up to Panamax size, they boost the economy because of the huge deals they generate and their attendant increased jobs.

It is for these reasons that stakeholders in the sector have urged the Federal Government to invest in them

The country, it was gathered, need the facility to enable owners of vessels carry out dry-docking and repairs to stem revenue losses. Investigation has shown that many vessels are doing their dry-docking in other West Africa countries and beyond.

Operations said, this is so, in spite of the fact that the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has granted the  approval to ensure that they dry dock their vessels in the country to save it the multi-million dollars spent on ship repairs outside its shore.

Findings have shown that most of the repair yards for bigger vessels are in Ghana, Namibia or Dakar.

Dry docking

Dry docking is a term used for repairs or when a ship is taken to the service yard. During dry docking, the ship is brought to a dry land so that the submerged portions of the hull can be cleaned or inspected.

Usually, dry docking is done every 12 to 24 months, as there could be machinery and systems that cannot be stopped while the ship is in use; these are also serviced, repaired or replaced at the same time. The normal steps followed are – the hull is cleaned of marine plants, painting with anti-corrosive and anti-fouling paints, hull inspection and repairs, shipside gratings cleaned and repaired, cleaning and surveying of tanks, rudder and carrier ring. Locking devices clearances are also examined. All overboard and sea suction valves are overhauled. Tail shaft bearing wear down is checked. Tail shaft is removed and inspected. Anchor chain is examined, cleaned and re-marked

NPA and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA),stakeholders said, need to ensure that vessel owners maintain their assets to ensure that high levels of safety and operational efficiency.

The Vice President, Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Dr Kayode Farinto, said agents must be encouraged to do so by ensuring that the large yards are many and ready to offer very competitive rates to undertake repairs, upgrades and routine drydocking at their facilities.

“In several parts of the world, including the Middle East, China and the Mediterranean, there are growing indications of oversupply in the repair market, with many companies competing.

“Therefore, ship owners operating in our country and operators need to benefit from lower repair and maintenance rates enjoyed in other parts of the world, given several recent and ongoing investment projects that are significantly boost repair capacity, thereby intensifying competition

“To meet the growing demand for drydocking of ships calling at our ports, we must design a new block arrangement to provide a clearance of 4m between vessel keel and drydock floor. This is intended to facilitate the maintenance of the multiple thruster arrangements often found on some vessel, Farinto said.

A lawyer, Mr Segun Ayodele, said NIMASA’s investment in the new floating dock must open the doors to well-known ship owners and managers trading.

“Nigeria needs a yard that will accommodate vessels up to Panamax size. As a result of having the larger dock, not only will the number of vessels repaired yard increased in a positive way, but the huge amount of revenue to be generated through docking

NPA, Ayodele said, also need to invest in new tugs, to increase its ability to manoeuvre large vessels, and also replace traditional grit blasting equipment with more environmental friendly hydroblasting systems.

“Over the past year, drydocks in World Dubai have acquired some high-productivity robotic blasters that can blast a ship’s hull at a rate of 60m2 per hour, compared with an average of 4m2 per hour manually, as part of efforts to enhance productivity and protect the local environment

“Alongside drydocks World Dubai, the UAE has a number of smaller shipyards that also cater to tanker repairs. Albwardy Damen, which operates facilities in Dubai and Sharjah.

Abu Dhabi Shipbuilding (ADSB) has increased its ship repairs and maintenance business having acquired a new floating dock that can take vessels up to 180m in length.

“Dry Docking is an essential process for all shipping companies that own ships, regardless of the type of a ship (marine vessel, cargo vessel, container ship or passenger ship) each ship should be operated through a set of regulations or otherwise operating the ship will be prohibited.

“These regulations are set by the IMO (International Maritime Organi

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