…As Industry watcher charges NPA on more work***
A Warri based businessman has controverted a recent claim of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to the effect that the Warri Port handled 200 vessels in six months, noting that with the depth of the channel at 7metre draft, 200 vessels could not have berthed in the port, without the city knowing it.
The reaction came even as an industry watcher, Samuel Egbewole frowned on the Authority’s celebration of one ship a day berthing, which 200 ships berthing in 6 months duration, actually translates into, tasking the present NPA Management to work harder, rather than celebrate little results.
Speaking on the development, a businessman, who spoke on condition of anonimity and lives in Warri; uses the port for his imports, noted that the greatest handicap to Warri Port was the 7metre draft, worsened by the peculiar positioning of the NNPC pipelines.
“The main problem with Warri Port is the 7 meters deep shallow channel, as a result of the NNPC Pipeline that crosses the channel. The average depth of most vessels is 15 meters and above, so it is impossible for such vessel to patronize Warri Port.
“If the government really wants to decongest Lagos port and save the roads in this country which are currently under unnecessary pressure-cost by haulage of heavy equipment, from Lagos to Niger Delta Operations base of the Oil & Gas firms; and also to other parts of the country, it would be easier to access it from Warri Port, due to its mid location.
“The government should relocate the NNPC Pipeline crossing the Warri Port Channel or re-lay it to acceptable depth for all vessels to access Warri Port. Advancement in subsea Pipe laying technology has now made that possible for such depth to be achieved”, he pointed out further, stressing that revamping Warri Port, would in addition assist in alleviating the pronounced poverty in the environment, which currently has been worsened by youths’ restiveness.
“Revamping and dredging Warri Port will go a long way to solve the problems that have impoverished the region, as this will create employment, boost business activities, empower the region economically and stop youths’ restiveness in Niger Delta.
“It is a common knowledge that when all the Ports in Niger Delta were operational, there was nothing like militancy or agitation.
“There is no country in the world with the population of Nigeria that has only one operational port. It is a good thing that the current ministers for both ministries (ministry of Transport and Petroleum) are from the region. Charity, they say begins at home. A word is enough for the wise”, the revered stakeholder stated.
Fielding questions, he affirmed that he currently uses the Warri Port, and that his personal account has not revealed or affirm the presence of some 200 foreign trading vessels in the port.
“Yes, I am an importer who uses the Warri Port for my shipment.
Due to the challenges of shallow Channel it is difficult to get regular vessel coming to Warri and when you are able to secure a vessel coming to Warri Port, it very much would have off load all its consignments in all other Ports to enable it stay afloat before coming to Warri as last Port of discharge. This causes unnecessary delay, (sometimes, incurring between 3 and 6 months) in shipping, through the Warri Port for importers.”
But, while the importer argues from the point of a man on ground, the industry watcher tasks the Authority to brainstorm more and deliver more to the country, stressing that the idea of chest thumping for attracting a ship-a-day to Warri, with the huge amount sunk into dredging calls for no celebration.
“Warri Port has a lot of potentials. Warri was once the anchor that held Sapele and transformed it into a celebrated terrain that we once celebrated. Warri was the envied domain of the seafarers. Warri was once the preferred trading post of the British trading vessels. We expect her by now, to be discussing with the NNPC, on the relocation or re-positioning of the under-ground pipelines; not celebrating that only one ship berths there now, averagely per day. Any Maritime denominated Chief Executive can do that!,” he concluded.
Responding on telephone, the NPA Image-maker, Engr. Adams Jatto, explained that the 200 vessel berthing was indeed for a period of six month, post -dredging, maintaining that before dredging the port, foreign-trading vessels visiting the port were scarce and far in-between.