By Godfrey Bivbere
STAKEHOLDERS operating in Warri port have questioned the absence of a management outfit for regular maintenance of the channel leading to the port as it is obtainable in Lagos and Bonny.
Former national financial secretary of the Association of Nigeria Licensed Customs Service, ANLCA, Prince Val Orhibabho, who spoke to Vanguard Maritime Report wondered why the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has not established a channel management company for Warri port has it has done for both Lagos and Bonny ports.
It will be recalled that there was an attempt to establish same for Calabar port but the contract leading to it has been plagued by controversy involving payments being made without any commensurate work done.
Oribhabo, who has been in the forefront of call 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 a channel management outfit is established for Warri port.
“Only God and proactive sensible Delta State Government can follow up these issues to actualisation, and this will be subject also to community disturbances,” he noted.
Orhibabho also called on influential traditional rulers and prominent sons and daughters of the state to come together to ensure that the outfit is established, as it will be beneficial for employment and empowerment of youths in the state.
Similarly, president of the Ijaw Youth Council, Eric Omare, said the Federal Government seems not to be interested in making the Warri port to function, adding that this was why the channel management outfit was not established at the port.
Omare also stressed the need for the government to give incentives to importers to use the port, as well as award the contract for the reconstruction of the road leading to and from the port.
He said: “Government has failed to give the required attention that it ought to give to Warri port. Over the years, what we have been seeing is that the eastern ports have not been functioning. This is especially noticeable at the Warri port which is idle because the government has not done what it is supposed to do with respect to dredging the channel and giving the necessary incentives to importers to use the Warri port.
“So lack of maintenance dredging of the channel which makes the channel to be shallow, especially the Escravos bay, is the major reason why Warri port is functioning below capacity and I can tell you that it is a case of government’s non-commitment to Warri port.”
Recall that the Federal Government recently approved N3.1 billion contract for the dredging of the Warri port-channel which has been completed according to NPA. However, the high level of siltation in the area will make nonsense of the effort.
Efforts to speak with the general manager, corporate and strategic communications of the NPA, Adems Jato, was not successful as he neither picked his calls nor responded to text message to him on the issue.