By Jonathan Ugbal
The non-dredging of the 87 kilometers Calabar Channel which has rendered the Calabar port nearly inaccessible is currently impacting negatively on business operations in no fewer than 23 states of the federation including the Federal Capital Territory says the acting Director General of the Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) Vincent Onome Akpotaire.
Akpotaire also says the non-dredging is detrimental to the business of terminal operators and other port users.
He made this known while speaking at the Post Privatization Monitoring of Terminal Operators at the port on March 24, 2017 a statement issued by the head of Public Communications, Alex Okoh on Monday said.
The Nigerian Tribune reports that Akpotaire, represented by the Director, Post Privatization Monitoring in the Bureau Joseph Chigbo Anichebe said that though the Bureau was not a party to a contract for the dredging of the channel; “BPE will step in to ensure that the Federal Government dredges the Port because it is an agreement signed with the Terminal Operators during the concessioning of the Terminals”.
Anichebe, who led a BPE team to the Port, said the Bureau will urgently compile a report on its assessment of the port and present to the federal government to intervene on the dredging which commenced years ago and stopped suddenly.
Anichebe said during the 2-day interaction with key players and terminal operators, the issue of non dredging was recurrent and it has led to a lull in operations which also impacts negatively on revenue and in extension, the economies of the North-East, North-Central, South-South and South-East regions of the country which the Calabar port is central.
“You can’t ask a ship to come to Calabar Port and dock because the depth is so low.
“And that is the critical thing we expect the Federal Government to do. As soon as the Channel is dredged, Nigeria can apart from imports, also export as there are many things to export but if the ships can’t come in you can’t export. You can’t take smaller ships to export goods to Europe”.
“Nnewi for instance imports heavy duty equipment. In Onitsha, they import all kinds of goods. Aba exports and imports a lot of products and Calabar Port should be the hub but currently, it is not. People will transport their goods to Lagos to export while others would import through Lagos Port and haul them by trucks and the roads are not good. So why not use the Calabar to ease their sufferings,” he said.
Furthermore, He said that; “Calabar Port is not what we were expecting. We expected to see here what is happening in Lagos and Port –Harcourt Ports where activities are booming but unfortunately, the Calabar Port has gone back to pre-2006 levels.
“We have interacted with the Port operators who have told us why the Port is not performing as expected and have given the Bureau an avalanche of reasons why the Port is not performing. And the major challenge they say is the non-dredging of the Calabar Channel.
“No ocean going vessel can come into the Channel. We were expecting the draught to be deepened but as it is now, no big or container laden vessels can come into the Port.
“When we go back after the interaction with the Terminal Operators, we will do a report to the BPE management and the National Council on Privatization (NCP), chaired by the Vice-President, highlighting the problems we saw on ground and it is our belief that very soon things will change based on our recommendations.”
Since You Are Here, Support Good Journalism
CrossRiverWatch was founded on the ideals of deploying tech tools to report in an ethical manner, news, views and analysis with a narrative that ensures transparency in governance, a good society and an accountable democracy.
Everyone appreciates good journalism but it costs a lot of money. Nonetheless, it cannot be sacrificed on the altar of news commercialisation.
Consider making a modest contribution to support CrossRiverWatch's journalism of credibility and integrity in order to ensure that all have continuous free access to our noble endeavor.