By Innocent Orok
An Akwa Ibom State Shipyard, Norfin Offshore Shipyard Limited will turn out its first product in December 2020.
According to a report from the State House, Governor Udom Emmanuel’s vision of exploring and harnessing the Akwa Ibom state maritime sector has received a boost with the commencement of production of ships by Norfin Offshore Shipyard Limited.
The first ship which is currently under construction at the factory is expected to be ready in December, this year.
The ship manufacturing and marine services company is owned by Engr. Charles Udonwa an indigene of Akwa Ibom State whose company had been in Singapore producing and providing shipping services to several Countries, including Nigeria.
Speaking at the new shipyard, the Etinan born industrialist said his motivation was to support the Governor in his mission to create jobs, develop talents and skills as well as contribute to the growth of Akwa Ibom state’s economy.
Receiving the Special Assistant to Governor Udom Emmanuel on Research and Documentation, Mr. Essien Ndueso and his team at the shipyard sited at Ikot Ukpong in Oruk Anam LGA, he said his vision is to make Nigeria, through Akwa Ibom State to become a major player in the ship manufacturing industry.
He said his factory which is still expanding, is expected to churn out Made in Nigeria sea going vessels for Nigeria’s maritime sector and offshore operations as well as pleasure rides.
“I am here to help establish Nigeria as a ship building country. We are here to create opportunities.
“As we speak, we have over 70 people earning salaries in this place. Nigeria has to establish itself as a ship building country, and that’s what we are doing here.
“So far we’ve sunk $2 million on the ground, sand filling and stone filling this place. Before we finish here, about $20 million would have been spent developing this place.”
He said the stretch of road, Ikot Abasi – Port Harcourt Expressway was within the recently approved Liberty Free Trade Zone and commended Governor Emmanuel for his support to their operations.
“We are here to stay. Other multinational companies are also going to establish along the same stretch. But we need government to help us subdue militancy so that development would come.
“It was Governor Udom Emmanuel who called me in Singapore to come and start the business in the state, before his call came, I had invitations from several other parts of Nigeria, but I chose my state.” Udonwa said.
Also speaking, the Operations Manager of the company, Mr. Ekpoafia Maxwell who hails from the operational community, explained that the shipyard hopes to create thousands of job opportunities in no distant time with the propose building of six more ship factories at the present location.
Reacting, the Governor’s aide Mr Essien Ndueso commended Engr. Udonwa for keying into the Governor’s completion agenda programmes which he said encapsulates maritime development, rural development and job creation.
He noted that the Shipyard and other industries which are about to spring up in the 50,000 hectares Liberty Free Trade Zone would open up sustainable business opportunities in Akwa Ibom, and urged the host communities to give the investors the necessary cooperation and support.