Insights / News
08 August 2016
A new ship, christened, “MV King of Calabar”, built by ABG Shipyard Limited of Mumbai, India in January 2011 berthed at the under-utilized Calabar Seaport in March 2011. The owners of the brand new ship, Jones-Tech International Limited and its Joint Venture Partner, Nkrah Investment Limited, organised a formal commissioning of the ship, performed by the Governor of Cross River State, Senator Liyel Imoke ably represented by his deputy who was accompanied by almost the entire members of the state executive council.

The joy brought by MV King of Calabar is not in the new marine vessel which is privately owned but in the investment that has given birth to the name. All things being equal, many more marine vessels are to be built with the name MV King of Calabar. The building of the ship will no longer be in India because the Indian company has agreed on a deal to replicate its shipyard in Nigeria and in the Niger Delta to be specific.

Speaking at the ceremony,Governor Imoke said the event was particularly important to his administration because it was kick-starting a process which would contribute to the actualization of the economic vision of his administration. “It is another milestone in our drive to better the lot of our people”, he noted.

Adding, “the collaborative effort arising from the technical partnership between the state government on the one hand and ABG Shipyard, which is the largest private shipbuilding yard in india, together with Jones-Tech/Nkrah on the other hand would hopefully result in the setting up of a shipbuilding yard, off the Atlantic Coastline by Efut Abua in Calabar South Local Government area.”

Already, the state government in partial fulfillment of its own equity stake has granted 250 hectares of land by the Efut Abua Coastline lying just before the high sea of Calabar. The choice of the site was reached through a geographic study. The location is open to many advantages. When completed the shipyard will be a possible beneficiary of the Nigerian Gas pipeline project. Alternatively, the National Independent Power Plant station located at Odukpani is just a few kilometers away. The Nigerian Marine College in Oron Akwa Ibom State is just 15 minutes away by sea.
Lead promoters of the shipyard building project, Jones-Tech International , Nkrah Investment, Calabar, and BGL Private Equity Limited in their address delivered by Eno Williams disclosed that Calabar shipyard would, among other things, have technological capabilities to build modern and sophisticated vessels of up to 20, 000 tons deadweight in the first phase. Such vessels include offshore support vessels such as MV King of Calabar, construction of full- fledged oil drilling rigs, building of support and offloading vessels, Liquefied Natural Gas Carrier vessels, container carriers, patrol vessels and military equipment for the Navy.

Besides vessels building, the proposed shipyard would also undertake vessel docking/maintenance services. There shall be a tools fabrication workshop and training academy for development of indigenous manpower in marine technology, naval architecture, ship designing building technology and marine operations.
The economic impact of the investment which is estimated at about $1billion USD on the catchment area of the Niger Delta, particularly the host community of Cross River State is better imagined. The Chairman of Calabar South Local Government, Hon. Ekeng Henshaw has also pledged support to see the investment to a grant success.

Besides the capacity of the investment to engage over 7, 000 youths of the Niger Delta both directly and through allied services, a new 7 kilometre road is to be constructed on to the coastline. The benefit of the new roads is already exciting the people by the mere news of it. The only fear being nursed by the people over the new road is whether the Cross River State Government can fund the project. Others have thought of pleading with Niger Delta Development Commission to fund it.

Speaking with newsmen, one of the promoters of the investment, Captain Patrick Kekong of Nkrah Investment limited based in Calabar said shareholding in Calabar Shipbuilding Yard will be made public for interested investors and members of the public.

The total estimated project cost is between $800m to $1billion USD. The Nigerian partners are expected to put down $500m USD while the foreign partners shall put down $400m USD.

Maritime activities in Nigeria revealed no significant progress in the area of ship building and or establishment of shipyard facilities. The few existing shipyard such as Nigerdock Plc, Continental Shipyard, Naval Dockyard, Wilmot Point etc. do not have new shipbuilding capacities, rather they are operating and earning revenue mainly from ship repairs and minimal fabrication works, while the Naval Dockyard handles minor repairs on smaller Naval patrol boats.

Interestingly, the success of the Calabar shipyard can be a catalyst for a turn-around of Calabar Seaport and the edifying Tinapa Business and leisure resort.

So, let the celebration of the arrival of MV King of Calabar vessel on the shores of Nigeria continue until the main one arrives, that is, the shipyard designated for the Atlantic coastline of Efut Abua in Calabar South, Cross River State; it will be the first of its kind in the West African sub-region.

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