In a bid to conserve foreign exchange, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has partnered its joint venture partners to build a simulation centre for the training of pilots locally.
Speaking at the inauguration of the simulation centre in Lagos yesterday, the Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, said training of pilots locally would save the federal government over $1 million (N366 million) annually spent in training pilots in the United Kingdom, other Europe countries and the United States of America.
She added that with the role that technology currently plays in the world, a state-of-the-art simulation centre of this nature is germane because it constitutes a critical success factor in actualising our strategic intent of becoming the leading providers of port services in Africa.
According to her, “It is a centre where pilots are trained on how to maneuver vessels into the water ways. Before now, the NPA and other stakeholders trained there pilots outside Nigeria, and that is why we have set up this facility to attract not just NPA pilots, but pilots across the country to be trained to have the necessary certification. We are opening it for commercial purpose, and we encourage other maritime operators to train their pilots here.”
On how the facility will advance maritime operation in Nigeria, she said the centre would significantly change the capacity of NPA pilots and increase the number of trained pilots in the authority.
“One of the additional values to this is that the sea time that is required will reduce in view of having this simulator centre available for training. We believe this project is important for the NPA as it seeks to save the country foreign exchange, improve on local content as we have more of local trainers having such high-tech equipment available to them. So, it is actually a significant milestone for the NPA and the maritime industry.
“We have a maintenance facility in place; we have an agreement whereby all the facilities are maintained, and we are seeking to have international accreditation that will further boost the simulator itself. So we are mindful of maintenance and maintenance culture has been instituted in the maintenance agreement put in place, “she stated.
In his remark, Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, stated that the deployment of technology in enhancing the capacity of workers has vast bearing on the growth and competitiveness of organisations and systems.
According to him, “The function specific enablement and training as well as this simulation centre will afford our Pilots, Marine Officers, Tug Masters, Radio Signal Officers to grapple with and surmount work related challenges which is central to optimising the comparative advantages that our maritime endowments offer, and I am happy that the NPA has taken this giant stride in furtherance of all the efforts that are being made to position our country as the maritime hub for Africa.
“In addition to that, this facility is also of great importance to the national economy given the pivotal role that the maritime sector occupies in the actualisation of the fundamental objectives of the Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP) of this administration.”
He congratulated the management of the NPA for completing the facility that has been abandoned for over 11 years.