- We Can’t Dredge Channels Without Removing Wrecks – NPA
The Nigerian Ports Authority has declared that the channels along the nation’s waterways cannot be dredged without removing abandoned ships and other wrecks littering the ocean.
The Managing Director, Hadiza Usman, made this declaration during a stakeholders’ meeting in Rivers State while responding to concerns over the shallow nature of the channels and the challenge posed to investment.
Speaking through the Executive Director, Marine Operations of the NPA, Sekonte Davies, Usman noted that dredging the channels with all the wrecks 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 failure to do so would amount to the NPA being forced to auction the vessels.
She said, “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 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.
She noted also that the government needed to know the volume of investment and business coming into private terminals that would want their channels dredged in order to determine if the additional revenue could make up for the funds the government would invest in the dredging.
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.
She said, “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, four tugboats are currently being refurbished.”
Usman said there were plans to dualise the Bonny channel to address the issue of delayed vessels.
“But first, we are doing an erosion study along the channel to understand what is currently happening 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.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Oil and Gas Free Zones Authority, Mr. Umanah Umanah, said that what was done in the free zone required collaboration, adding, “I was very happy when the MD hammered on collaboration among stakeholders because what affects the ports negatively also affects the free zone. For example, when the access road at some point was impassable, that affected the operations at the ports and affected the operations of our licensees within the free zone.
“Also, when we work in synergy concerning the issue of security, we can arrive at a more effective solution. Rather than the agencies approaching the government individually, we should work together to ensure that the clients at the ports and at the free zone can transact their business seamlessly according to the ease of doing business policy of the Federal Government.”