July 6, 2017

Senate probes $3bn spent on dredging Calabar, Bonny, Lagos channels

Senate Chamber

…Berates EFCC, others

By Henry Umoru

ABUJA—THE Senate, yesterday, began a probe of over $3 billion spent since in 2005 by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, on the dredging of Calabar, Lagos and Bonny Channels without appreciable work carried out on them.

It also accused the NPA of conniving with Lagos Channel Management, LCM, Limited; Bonny Channel Company, BCC, Limited, and Calabar Channel Management Company, CCMC, Limited to defraud the country.

Consequently, it mandated its Committee on Marine Transport to summon the NPA,LCM, BCC, and CCMC, investigate their books, records and submit its report in one week.

Senate chamber

The upper chamber noted that LCM and BCM, through the NPA, have respectively requested N23 billion and N20 billion in NPA’s 2017 budget.

Resolutions of the Senate were sequel to a motion moved by Senator Ovie Omo- Agege (APC, Delta Central) and entitled, “Matter of Urgent Importance for the Senate’s intervention to urgently stop monumental financial recklessness and economic waste by the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, under its joint ventures with Lagos Channel Management Limited, Bonny Channel Management Company Limited and Calabar Channel Management Company Limited.”

The motion was co-sponsored by Senators Ahmed Ogembe (PDP, Kogi Central), Samuel Anyanwu (PDP, Imo East), Benjamin Uwajumogu (APC, Imo North), Abdullahi Gumel (APC, Jigawa North West) and Clifford Ordia (PDP, Edo Central).

In his remarks, Senate President, Senator Bukola Saraki, berated the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, EFCC, and other anti-crime agencies for failing to detect what he described as monumental fraud allegedly perpetrated by the NPA.

He also asked the Committee on Maritime Transport to immediately investigate the matter because of its importance.

Earlier in his presentation, Senator Omo- Agege said : ‘’The Senate notes that the Lagos Channel Management (LCM) Limited is a joint venture (JV) enterprise formed in August 2005 between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Depasa Marine International for the management and routine maintenance dredging of Lagos navigation channels; with NPA and TCMC holding 60% and 40% equity shareholding respectively of LCM.

“The Bonny Channel Company (BCC) Limited is a JV company also formed in August 2005 between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and The Channel Management Company (TCMC) for the management and routine maintenance dredging of the Bonny River and Bonny navigation channel, with NPA and TCMC holding 60% and 40% equity shareholding respectively of BCC; and

“The Calabar Channel Management Company (CCMC) Limited is also a JV arrangement between Niger Global Engineering & Technical Company Limited and the NPA for the management and capital dredging of the Calabar channel, with NPA holding 60% equity share participation while Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited holds 40% equity shareholding in CCMC;

“The Senate is worried that although these JVs are supposed public-private partnerships, PPP, conceived to reduce financial burdens on the Federal Government, the NPA has expended over  one billion dollars and two billion dollars respectively on LCM and BCC from 2005 till date, while significant dredging is yet to commence on the Calabar channel, notwithstanding that it is an economic gateway to the North Central and North East geo-political zones of the country;

“It observes that the NPA has failed, refused and/or neglected to ensure the JVs’ compliance with the Marine Environment (Sea Dumping) Regulations, 2012, made pursuant to the Merchant Shipping Act, 2007; the Convention on the Prevention of Marine Pollution by Dumping of Wastes and Other Matters 1972 otherwise called the “London Dumping Convention” and the 1996 Protocol to the London Dumping Convention, as there are no dump sites for the management of hazardous dredged wastes removed from the Lagos, Bonny and Calabar navigation channels, thereby leading to sustained severe pollution of our marine ecosystem.

“It is also concerned that in spite of the unjustified huge financial commitment of the NPA to these supposed PPP joint ventures, empirical facts, evidence and data, including current admiralty charts from Lloyds of London clearly confirm that the depth profiles of the channels, particularly the Lagos and Bonny channels, remained significantly the same at 13 meters between 2005 and 2016, notwithstanding the purported claims of daily maintenance dredging of the channels by the JVs.

“The Senate is also disturbed that in continuation of NPA’s manifestly questionable and reckless financial commitments, LCM and BCM, through the NPA, have respectively requested for the sums of N23 billion and N20 billion in the NPA’s 2017 budget;

“It is concerned that the NPA and the JVs (LCM, BCC and CCMC) are on a course of absolute financial impunity and recklessness to wreck the nation’s treasury and needs to be tamed now in interest.”