By Babalola Yusuf
Apparently dissatisfied with the shallow nature of the Calabar port channel despite huge amount of money expended on the dredging of the Channel, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Ms Hadiza Bala Usman has expressed desire to probe the dredging contract.
The contract which was in the tune of over $56m was to ascertain why so much money was spent on the project and yet the channel was still shallow.
Speaking in Calabar, Cross River State, recently, Usman told journalists that she had already met with the Calabar Channel Management (CCM) company demanding for the hydrographic report and a full data on the status of the contract.
She observed that many of the operators at the Calabar Port had shut down their operations due to the shallow channel which had impeded bigger vessels from berthing at the port.
The NPA Managing Director informed that she has initiated the first meeting with CCM, saying, “I have informed the management that we are going to have technical sessions next week to determine the level of dredging said to have been done.
“We are looking at the dredging critically, some of the money we have spent on capital dredging is not translating in the amount of money we are spending on maintenance dredging, the cost of maintenance should not be that high, we are asking for full data.
“We have requested for the hydrographic service carried out from the onset, the documents will facilitate us in determining the way forward around Calabar Channel management.
“We believe that there is a critical need to resolve this issue so that the draft can be made deeper and we can have more vessels coming into Calabar.
“We looked backwards to see what went wrong as relates capital and maintenance dredging and indeed the works that Calabar Channel Management was said to have embarked upon in 2015”, she said.
According to her, NPA focus on spending on capital projects, especially those infrastructures that Calabar Port requires, as well as the road projects requested for by the operators.
She noted that these projects have already been included in the 2016 budget.
“The critical issue about Calabar port has to do with the dredging of the channel, the draft needs to be deeper to ensure we attract more vessels. We need to jointly work to bring commercial activities into the state, we have discussed with the State Government.”
Recall that the $56 million contract for the dredging of Calabar Port Channel was awarded in 2006.
The contract remained uncompleted and the Federal Government awarded another contract in November 2014 at N20 billion to complete the project.
Specifically, the contract was awarded at the initial sum of N3 billion in 1996, but it was later re-awarded in 2006 at $56 million.
The contract which was signed by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) and the Calabar Channel Management, was for the port to be dredged up to 9.8 metres.
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