Nigeria’s Federal Executive Council on Wednesday approved N58.6 billion contract for the construction of ship building facilities and dockyard in Delta.

The Minister of Transport, Alhaji Idris Umar, disclosed this to State House correspondents after the council meeting presided over by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the State House.

Umar said the contract was approved to end the huge capital flight in the procurement of ships by Nigerians from outside the country.

He said the project was also in line with the mandate of NIMASA under Section 22 (1k) of the enabling law of the agency.

The law provides that NIMASA shall develop and implement policies and programmes that will facilitate the growth of local capacities in ownership, manning and construction of ships and other maritime infrastructure.

Umar said that the contract was split into two; package one will cost N40.2 billion and package two will cost N18.4 billion.

He said package one of the contract would involve the provision of maritime equipments and structures, ancillary buildings and electro-mechanical works and facilities for the ship building facilities.

The second package of the project, he said, would involve the entire civil works and the infrastructure works for the facilities.

“We have a very serious dearth in the ship building capacity in the country and it is, therefore, imperative that we develop the facility in order to curtail the incessant capital flight that is being experienced by the Nigerian economy.

“Annually, we have to be acquiring vessels and ships outside the country which is telling on the economy.

“This project has the propensity to drive sustainable development and step up capacity building in the maritime sector of the economy.

“It will also help Nigeria to take its rightful place among the developed maritime nations across the world,’’ he said.

The minister said that upon completion, the shipyard facility would have the capacity for dry docking of ocean going vessels, which would be useful in the training of the cadets of the Maritime Academy of Nigeria.

He said presently the cadets were being sent out of the country for the training and it was causing the country huge amount of money.

Umar said that after the development of the facility, there would be a tripartite agreement between NIMASA, the contractor and the private sector to ensure sustenance of the facility.

The minister also disclosed that the FEC approved N274.9 million contracts for the consultancy services for the dredging of escravos, Warri, Aladja to Koko channel also in Delta.

“In our determination to ensure safe and navigable channels for the proposed dredging of the escravos, it became necessary to engage the services of reputable consultancy to carry out the necessary berth-metric study and other studies.

“The studies will also prepare the pre-contract document for the project implementation and look at the safety and environmental implications of the project.

“The studies will also impact on the proposed gas to energy revolution project of the Federal Ministry of Petroleum Resources in Ogidigbe, Delta,’’ he said.

Umar said that the contract for the dredging of the escravos would be awarded in 2014 at the completion of the consultancy services contract.