By Godfrey Bivbere
In a bid to deepen the channel leading to Warri port hitherto hindered by Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC pipeline, the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA said discussion is at an advanced stage with the corporation for the relaying of its pipeline from the present 7.5 meters to about 14 meters.
Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko who disclosed this in Lagos, also said that before the relaying of the pipeline, the Authority has commenced remedial dredging of the channel to make it navigable for visiting ships.
Bello-Koko said that two consultants have been contracted to carry out the mapping and surveying of the channel for actual dredging to commence.
According to him, “It is when this mapping and surveying is completed because approaching ships don’t even know what is there. The issue here is the case of the chicken and the egg which comes first, is it the egg or the chicken?
“The channel has an NPPC pipeline buried about 7.5 metres, so you cannot go further than that but the discussion has started with NNPCN to see how that pipeline can be buried deeper which means we have to dredge deeper to get to ten or 14 metres depending on how far the pipelines are buried. Yes, we know that is one of the longest channels which makes it extremely expensive to dredge.
“For Sapele port, we’ve been having meetings with the Nigerian Navy; I said this earlier, what part of it can be operational and will not be a security threat to them because you cannot bring civilians into a military zone. That place has practically turned to a military zone.
“We know what happened in the past that we needed their presence but that discussion is taking place between the NPA and the Chief of Naval Staff. We are assessing the facilities in Koko and Burutu and we are going to rehabilitate them, especially Koko. The quays are collapsing and that is one of the things we are going to do in 2022.
“Last week Wednesday, we were together in Warri and we visited the Olu of Warri, the Ogieme, and we begged him to also help us talk to the communities to understand that their actions and inactions will determine the kind of businesses that will come to those locations.
“And that same week, we were having complaints from the company that was doing the mapping and survey of the channel. The company that was supposed to do the mapping and survey of the area is supposed to do 50 laps to and fro, they are already having problems on where to get overnight, and each committee they get to they are already having issues.
“But what we have done is to bring in the traditional rulers to talk to them to know that whatever we are doing is to improve the economic activities of their place. We thank the traditional rulers for being fully involved in this, the Olu of Warri has given me his commitment that whatever problem that is within his domain; he will handle it and has also promised to reach out to other traditional rulers to ensure that there is no disruption to shipping and other business activities in the area,” he said.