For the channels leading to private terminals and other estuary facilities to be dredged, the level of investment and businesses coming to them need to be ascertained to determine if the additional revenue could make up for the funds the government would invest in the dredging, the managing director of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman, has said.
Against the backdrop of the clamour for the dredging of channels leading to terminals and the capital intensive nature of the venture, she said the capacity of the facilities along the channels to justify dredging costs through investments and revenue generation have to be established before a decision can be made.
Usman spoke at a stakeholders’ meeting in Port Harcourt, Rivers State while responding to concerns over the shallow nature of the channels and the challenge posed to investment.
The NPA boss who was represented by the Executive Director, Marine Operations, Sekonte Davies, declared that the channels along the nation’s waterways cannot be dredged without removing abandoned ships and other wrecks littering the shoreline.
According to her, dredging the channels with all the wrecks in place would be an exercise in futility as all the funds deployed would be wasted when the channels were blocked by the wrecks shortly after. She urged owners of the abandoned vessels to remove them, saying that a deadline will be given for such vessels to be removed after which they would be auctioned.
“We have asked people to come and remove their abandoned vessels. We have published this and in a few weeks time, we are going to auction the wrecks and if it cost us more to remove them, the owners are going to pay,” Usman stated.
Usman assured the stakeholders that environmental studies were being carried out on the available drafts with a view to determining the nature of the dredging and how deep it should be.
On security, she said arrangements had been concluded to procure six waterfront patrol boats for the security patrol in the immediate channel not too far away from the ports.
“We have a security system that enables us to monitor the movement of vessels and ships and to pick them up when there is distress.
“In terms of equipment, we are about to conclude arrangement for the procurement of 60 brand new tugboats to add to what we have while four tugboats are currently being refurbished.”
She said an erosion study is being undertaken along the channel to understand the status of the draughts “and we are setting up safety enablers to see the possibility of certain types of vessels also going through while the Liquefied Natural Gas vessels are passing. We hope that would be concluded within the year but I believe most likely by the third quarter of the year.”