By Godfrey Bivbere
Gas pipeline belong to the National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, is to hinder the dredging of Warri port channel from being dredged going below 7.5 meters.
Disclosing this in Lagos Monday during a working visit to the corporate head officer of Vanguard Media Ltd, publishers of Vanguard Newspaper, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said though NPA would have love to dredge the channel below the 7.5 mark, it is not possible. Disclosing this in Lagos Monday during a working visit to the corporate head officer of Vanguard Media Ltd, publishers of Vanguard Newspaper, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said though NPA would have love to dredge the channel below the 7.5 mark, it is not possible.
According to her, “Warri port is an area that has a lot of oil and gas activities. We recently got approval for the dredging of the Escravos bar that has not been dredged since the 1980’s, we are dredging it to 7.5 meters. “That is the maximum you can dredge it to in view of pipes that are buried there. NNPC pipes that are buried there so we cannot go below that, idealy we should go below that but we are unable to go below that,” she noted.
This is contrary to earlier report that the NNPC plannin to relocate the pipe lines, an action that would have taking several months for the pipeline to be relocated.
Confirming the above to Vanguard Maritime Report, former National Financial Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA and a Warri based Customs Broker, Val Johnbull Oribhabo, said presence of the pipeline is no news.
Oribhabo, who has been in the fore front of calls for the dredging of the channel, said it is important for the Delta State government to be proactive and work with the relevant bodies to ensure that all obstacles to the dredging of the channel are settled.
He stated: “I can confirm the signing and contract approval but this is different from real dredging activity going on.
“I heard months back that the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC says one of their gas pipes passing across there will require minimum of one year to relocate.
“Only God and proactive sensible Delta State Government can follow up these issues to actualisation it and this is subject also to community disturbances,” he noted.
“Mobilisation of the contractor is key; but the commencement of work notwithstanding the removal of the NNPC pipeline is another matter.
“There are other areas along the channel they can begin to work on but the problems like you rightly observe might be with the communities along the route and the over bearing influence of some traditional rulers. We hope and pray that all comes to reality.”
However, President of the Ijaw Youth Council, IYC, Eric Omare, when contacted, toldVanguard Maritime Report, that he was not aware of the presence of any pipeline belonging to NNPC but said they are hoping that work on the dredging would soon commence.
On allegation that some communities are stalling the project, Omare said, “No, I don’t think that is true. There is this misconception by the Ilaje people that the community engagement has been done and that they are not being carried along.
“But what we told them is that the issue of engagement is secondary. What is most important is for the dredging to be done so that the port will be functional and that is the larger picture everybody should be looking at. And in any case, there is no way NPA would embark on such a massive project without reaching out to the communities. I think the most important thing is for the stakeholders to support the project, and then at the appropriate time the engagement can be done by the relevant companies that are involved. But for now, community issues are not a factor at all.”