Sunday Okobi
Fiki Marine, a subsidiary of Fiki Bal International Inc, Lagos, has concluded plans to partner a foremost ship builder in Egypt, Giza Shipyard, to commence the building of yachts, speed boats, ships among other water transport vehicles in Nigeria.

The Chairman of Fiki Marine, Taofiki L Balogun, who disclosed this exclusively to THISDAY wednesday at the pre -signing of Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with his Egyptian partner in Lagos, said it was a landmark achievement to have such project in Nigeria, “because it is unfair to our economy that most of the boats used in Nigeria are brought in from Dubai, United Arab Emirate. I want to build super standard boats in Nigeria to meet the international standard.”

He added that rather than import boats from abroad, “we have decided to get some manpower and materials here for the project as a way of creating employment and improving on our technological development in Nigeria.”

Among other services provided by Fiki Marine, Balogun said they were also into sales of boats brought in from abroad, adding that: “We rent boat and do ferry services mainly for picnics to different beaches, and Nigerians are really enjoying the services, which is good for our socio-economic sector.”

In order to raise the standard and the quality of the boats built in Nigeria, which he described as substandard, Fiki Marine boss has promised to take the Nigeria marine transport sector to a greater height by bringing in experts from African countries in boat building business without losing sight of the Nigerian local content policies.

“I think the immediate past Governor of Lagos State has paved the way to enable us to start manufacturing our boats here in Nigeria. I have been in the boat business for over 30 years. My late father was the first person to have a motorised boat, so I believe that with the way we are going, we are going to have a head way, create jobs for our teeming youths and consequently contribute to the economy.

“Also, we have decided to focus on Africa, because we will have a better control as to who we are going to employ, as we have worked with many Nigerians who were former militants. With this boat building project in the pipe line, they will have gainful employment. While some are doing apprentiship, they will be paid, some of them could not even fend for themselves. I don’t like a situation where they have to go back to their families to feed them, after they have struggled through school. Therefore from the onset, they will be paid. I have a lot of Nigerians working for me,” he explained.

Speaking in his personal capacity as the Giza Shipyard Vice President, and on the company’s behalf to THISDAY, Shady Azmy ElBadrawy, who was elated over his futuristic contributions to the marine transport system in Nigeria, said the yacht building project, when commenced, would boost Nigerian economy as well as curb youth restiveness, as virile and tech savvy youths would be seriously involved in the project.

“I’m in Nigeria to build floating Yacht and passenger boat. This project will affect the Nigeria economy positively and promote a ship building industry in Nigeria.Also, we train Nigeria so that they can work in this company. I’m going to import building materials from abroad till I reach a good source here. If the business grows bigger, the material for a small factory for steel and aluminum for made-in-Nigeria would be source here, not imported. This is going to affect our youths positively as well,” ElBadrawy, a Marine Engineer stated.