In a bid to attract shippers to eastern ports and boost economic activity in the region, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), has recently said it has awarded the contract for remedial dredging of Escravos channel.
The Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, who disclosed this while speaking with newsmen in Warri, Delta State said the dredging of the channel will help to expand the channel and enable bigger vessels to visit the port in Delta State.
According to Bello-Koko, the dredging, which has started and is about halfway done, will enable port in Delta State to have a better draft, receive bigger vessels and record less incidences of vessels running aground when completed.
Bello-Koko said, “We all know that the breakwaters collapsed about 10 years ago, and there has been high siltation resulting in reduction of the draft from 7 meters to 3 meters in some places.”
The NPA, he added, has also started the mapping and charting of the Escravos channel starting from the fairway buoy down to Koko Port, which has not been done for over a decade or more.
“The essence is to enable us to be able to know the draft along the way and also ensure that the navigational aids are properly placed. This is because there are some decisions that can only be taken after knowing that the channel has been properly mapped and surveyed,” he said.
Bello-Koko further said the efforts put together means that the NPA is beginning to pay attention to the ports outside Lagos.
He added, “We have a special interest in ensuring that Warri and other ports are more active. This is why we have been holding stakeholders meetings and we are going to Port Harcourt for another one. This enables us to engage with the importers and exporters for them to know that these ports are available for use. We will deploy more marine equipment and ensure that the signals are also working to ensure safe navigation of vessels.”
The NPA boss added that the development will bring joy to the people, especially those that are into the business of importation, who have been yearning for the decongestion of the Lagos port and the bringing of business to the Warri port.
Speaking during a courtesy visit by the NPA boss and his management team to seek royal support in reviving the Warri Port, the Olu of Warri Kingdom, Ogiame Atuwatse III, expressed satisfaction on the NPA visit to Warri Port as the first port of call after his confirmation as the managing director.
He said the eastern ports need to be opened up after several pushes by different governments in the past, adding that the recent efforts will yield positive results for the benefit of the importing community.
While saying that the Niger-Delta people want the port to work, the Olu of Warri said that port generally drives the economy of the cities where they are located.
He assured that the NPA can always come to the royal family for support to achieve the goal of opening up Warri Port for business.