The Minister of Transportation, Mr Rotimi Amaechi, says the new Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Simulation Centre will help conserve foreign exchange expended on manpower training overseas.

Amaechi said this at the inauguration of the newly established NPA Simulation Centre on Tuesday at Apapa Dockyard, Lagos.

“You cannot thrive in the maritime environment without knowledge of technology which will impact positively on the growth of Nigerian economy.

“Only professionals will use this facility and I hope that this initiative will turn out as many professionals as possible.

“On behalf of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, we will support NPA and all other agencies and encourage them to have inter-agency collaboration towards attainment of our common goals,” Amaechi said.

The minister, however, urged takeholders in the sector to make the best use of facilities at the stimulation centre which would ultimately add value to the nation’s economy.

The Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said inauguration of the stimulation centre was another testament of this administration’s resolve to prepare the NPA for the exigencies of the increasingly-competitive global maritime space.

According to her, a simulation centre is germane because it constitutes a critical success factor in actualising the NPA’s strategic intent of becoming the leading providers of port services in Africa.

“As most of us may be aware, a simulation centre will enable us to build the capacity of our Pilots, Marine Officers, Tug Masters & Radio Signal Officers, Terminal Operators and other stakeholders to respond to the challenges of their jobs.

“The management of NPA places a very high premium on the personnel and we are poised to facilitate the capacity of members to be the best at what they do with the information and equipment that they need.

“This simulation centre is timely, as it is coming at a period when the series of efforts are concentrated on making our ports more competitive, thereby attracting greater vessel traffic.

“This commissioning is also a reminder that our drive towards attaining the Occupational Health and Safety Standards (OHSAS 18001) and ISO 9002 compliance status is no fluke and all hands must be on deck to make it a reality ” Bala-Usman said.

She urged all users of the facility to employ a sense of ownership in the usage and maintenance of the equipment such that it would remain a subject of national pride.

Bala-Usman urged all stakeholders to commit themselves to the sustenance and continuous improvement of the facility.

She, however, lauded the minister of transportation, members of the Boards and Management of the NPA as well as staff for their commitment to the completion of the project

The Executive Director, Finance and Administration of NPA, Mr Muhammed Bello-Koko, said that over the years, vessel sizes had increased significantly, noting that the 400-metre long container vessel “the Wozmax” is a typical example of a new trend in vessel design.

Bello-Koko said that tug capabilities had also evolved along this trajectory, with higher capacity harbour tugs of between 60 and 100 tonnes bollard pull being deployed more frequently.

“New techniques such as bow-to-bow operations and the more recent Rotor Tug design are impacting the use of tugs.

“These changes, combined with increasing commercial pressure have helped ship simulation, an essential part of ensuring the safety of vessels within ports limits.

“The facility will also provide an economic benefits to the authority when it is eventually commercialised.

“It is worth noting that key stakeholders are already expressing interest in using the facility for the training of marine personnel.

“I am very much interested in this area. The cost-saving potential of the facility is also of huge interest to me.

“The authority spends heavily to sponsor its pilots to the United Kingdom for simulation training,” Bello-Koko said.

He said that the simulation centre came with numerous value-adding benefits to the authority in particular and the marine industry at large.

Bello-Koko said that the facility was a testament to NPA’s readiness to take service delivery and maritime safety to the next level.

He said that the operations would be in line with international dictates and in respect of those related standards that Nigeria was signatory to concerning maritime and shipping globally.

The project Manager, Mrs Omone Amahian, said that the renovation of the simulation centre began on Oct. 25, 2017 and ended on June 30, 2018; while the building was handed over to the operations, maintenance and training delivery team on Oct. 4, 2018.

“We have been responsible for conducting the training, general maintenance of the full bridge simulation and the entire fabric of the building.

“The training is a five-day workshop for eight pilot trainees and one coordinator. The training delivery is a refresher workshop on theoretical navigation and practical pilotage on techniques and procedures on the full bridge simulator that mimics real life scenarios.

“The first training commenced on Nov. 12, 2018 and since then we had trained 12 batches, making a total of 96 pilot trainees,”

Amahian commended the cooperation of NPA towards making it a success, saying that the project would expand additional workshops and certifications for potential trainees beyond Nigeria. (NAN)