By Godfrey Bivbere
AS the $44.861million (N16.150 billion) Warri Channel dredging contract nears completion, controversy is currently trailing the project’s contract award.
Some maritime experts, who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report on the issue, explained that the contract will not service the port community in Warri for the long term as a result of the high siltation (rate of return of sand to the channel after dredging) level of the area.
They pointed out that the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, are aware of this and that they were planning to build a wall on both sides of the channel before the dredging to prevent siltation.
Recall that the former Managing Director of NPA, Habib Abdullahi, said then that the Authority is aware of the problem and has commenced plans to address it.
Abdullahi, who was represented at a meeting in Lagos by the then General Manager in charge of Public Affairs, Emmanuel Ebubuegu, said two firms; Royal Ascony, was looking at the break waters and Ace Consulting was working on the pre-dredging.
According to NPA boss, “The study of geography tells us that at the lower course of the river, the level of sedimentation is very high. Incidentally, the ports of Warri, Calaber and Port Harcourt are all situated at the lower course of river. If you do not do something to address the hindrance properly, you will always be fighting with nature.”
Chief Executive Officer, Kamany Marine Services Limited, Charles Okorefe, faulted the contract, stating that it is politically motivated.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report, Okorefe explained that NPA is aware that the present dredging is not a lasting solution but went ahead all the same because they want to score political point.
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Former National Financial Secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Agents, ANLCA and a Warri based Customs Broker, Val Johnbull Oribhabo, said welcome the dredging but expressed worry whether the project will be properly done for the benefit of operators in the area.
Recall that the contract was awarded to Dredging International Services Nigeria (DISN) Limited, a subsidiary of Dredging International Services (Cyprus) Limited.