The Federal Government has announced that it has granted a contract for corrective dredging of the Escravos waterway, in an effort to restore the port in Delta State.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said the dredging of the channel would help to enlarge the channel and allow larger vessels to use the Delta State port.
When completed, he said, the dredging will allow the Delta State port to have a greater draft, receive larger vessels, and have fewer incidents of vessels running aground.
“We all know that the breakwaters collapsed about 10 years ago, and there has been high siltation resulting in reduction of the draft from 7 meters to 3 meters in some places,” Bello-Koko said.
According to him, the NPA has also begun mapping and charting the Escravos waterway from the fairway buoy to Koko Port, something that hasn’t been done in at least a decade.
“The essence is to enable us to be able to know the draft along the way and also ensure that the navigational aids are properly placed. This is because there are some decisions that can only be taken after knowing that the channel has been properly mapped and surveyed,” he said.
Bello-Koko went on to say that the combined efforts indicate that the NPA is beginning to pay attention to ports outside of Lagos.
We have a special interest in ensuring that Warri and other ports are more active. This is why we have been holding stakeholders meetings and we are going to Port Harcourt for another one. This enables us to engage with the importers and exporters for them to know that these ports are available for use. We will deploy more marine equipment and ensure that the signals are also working to ensure safe navigation of vessels,” he added.
This, the NPA boss said, will bring joy to the people especially those that are into the business of importation, who have been yearning for the decongestion of the Lagos port and the bringing of business to the Warri port.
Meanwhile, the Olu of Warri Kingdom, Ogiame Atuwatse III, expressed delight with the NPA chief and his management team’s visit to the Olu’s palace to seek royal help in resurrecting the Warri Port.
After many attempts by different governments in the past, he said the eastern ports needed to be opened up, adding that the present initiatives will bring positive results for the importing community.
The Olu of Warri, while stating that the people of the Niger Delta want the port to work, also stated that the port drives the economy of the cities where it is located.
He however said that the NPA can always come to the royal family for support to achieve the goal of opening up Warri Port for business.