by crossriverwatch admin
The Federal Government’s approval for the dredging of the Calabar Port access channel is reportedly causing a stir in the maritime industry.
Although billions of naira had been spent on the project yet there is nothing to show for it and many are wondering whether the project has not become a conduit for siphoning public funds, the NATION reports.
The Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Umar, after breaking the news of the approval of the project, said the delay in the work had impacted negatively on the economic activities of Cross River State and the country. “The Tinapa Resort, Calabar has been a little bit dormant because of the non-functionality of the channel.
Also, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Habib Abdulahi also disclosed in Cross River State that the Federal Government has awarded the contract for the dredging of the port.
“I am very happy and eager to inform you that Mr. President has approved the capital and maintenance dredging of the Calabar Port.” Abdullahi promised that the dredging would begin before the end of the year but it would be done in phases.
Umar and Abdullahi were however, silent on why previous attempts to dredge the channel failed and why those who handled the project have not been brought to book.
The first contract was awarded in 1996 by Gen. Sani Abacha, former Head of State at N3 billion, while the second was awarded at $56 million, by President Olusegun Obasanjo in 2006.
Before the latest move, $56 million (about N8.9 billion) had been spent on the 84kiliometres port channel without result. The dredging project began in July 2006 and lasted for 64 weeks. The channel is expected to be used by vessels with 30,000 Gross Registered Tonnage since the meter depth of the channel would be 9.5 meters minimum.
Efforts to dredge the port access channel since 1996 have repeatedly hit the rock, costing the nation over N96 billion. The port has been perennially plagued by shallow channel, making freight cost to the port expensive.
Last year, Chief Tony Anenih, the Chairman, Board of Director of the NPA, sent a strong-worded petition to the Minister of Transport, querying the rationale behind the award of the contract for the dredging of the channel to the company belonging to a serving Senator by NPA’s Managing Director, Habib Abdullahi.
He called for the reappraisal of the contract and questioned the basis for choosing the consortium to manage the company.
Also, stakeholders at a retreat for members of the maritime reporters in Abuja last year, a call went out to government to institute a probe into the Calabar port dredging contract. The forum advised that a fresh contract must not be awarded until an explanation was given on the previous one.
However, investors continue to count their loses as the federal government of Nigeria keep awarding contracts for the same project over and over again.
Culled from Nation
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