News Stories in 4th Quarter 2006 Edition of DDH Magazine
A Dredging School for Nigerian Market underway?
Indications are rife that an academy for the training of interested Nigerians in the basic skills of dredging will soon be established in the country going by the apparent interest of many local and foreign stakeholders who have discovered that the lack of such a school is a major handicap to the growth of the sector.
Against this backdrop is the call by a Nigerian dredge consultant, Engr Sunday Otuya that the government should include dredging as a course in polytechnics and colleges of technology.
He made this call during an exclusive interview with DDH when he analysed the problems and prospects of the industry to Nigeria’s future development.
As of now, there is no such institution despite the very high prospects dredge operators and manufacturers give to the Nigerian dredging and sand management industry.
But this lack seems to have become noticed by important stakeholders who are moving, albeit individually, to address the shortcoming.
In various encounters with major stakeholders in the industry recently, plans to set up such schools seem to be on the increase.
In an exclusive unpublished interview granted DDH by a Nigerian dredging company executive in July, some details of such an institution being planned were released by the man who pleaded for anonymity and requested for a lid to be placed on the story in the meantime.
However, more information have been revealed recently by the director of sales of US dredge manufacturers Ellicott, Mr Paul Quinn, who told DDH that indeed such plans are afoot to establish a school that will impart skills for the hands-on operation of dredgers and for dredge field management.
In the exclusive interview (published in this edition of the magazine), he revealed that exploratory talks had begun, to cooperate with a Nigerian partner to run such a school in the not-too-distant future.
Mr Quinn termed such a development as ‘new’, ‘positive’ and likely to draw ‘government support’, saying that it also appears to be the solution of the problems which new dredge entrepreneurs encounter in Nigeria with manpower.
To date, scarcity of competent manpower lie at the root of the teething problems of dredge operators in Nigeria because a lot of the available hands seem to be drawn from the roads and civil construction industry and not those particularly trained to man dredgers and dredging operations.
At a different fora in Port Harcourt earlier in the year, the occasion was a seminar organized by the European dredge manufacturers, IHC of Holland where one of the points of consensus was the severe handicap posed by improperly trained personnel for the local dredge industry. Almost all the successful Nigerian dredge operators who spoke at the event confessed to having had a baptism of fire due to the lack of diligence by such poorly trained staff in their employment at the time. Going by the hues and cries, it may not be far from the truth to say that some failures of Nigerian dredging outfits may have inhered from either direct or collateral damages suffered from this personnel problem.
In a brief history of his own working experience, Engr Otuya revealed that Westminster Dredging Nigeria Ltd used to run a dredging school in the 1970s and 80s expressly for the training of their own dredging employees.
All told, however, it may be reasonable to conclude that the day will soon dawn when interested young Nigerian skill seekers can have the opportunity to train in a properly established schooling environment where they can learn all the rudiments of dredging and help to advance the local industry to the next levels of practice and standards.