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Lack of draft, dredging-real reasons Calabar, Warri ports are not functional

AKIN Ricketts, Chairman of the board of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) says lack of draft and lack of dredging of rivers in both Calabar and Warri are the reasons why those ports are not being put to use.

Ricketts gave some of these reasons behind the dormant nature of the ports in some parts of the country in a recent interview with PREMIUM TIMES.

“I will dwell on some challenges in some of the other ports. In Cross River State, for instance, the draft of the Calabar port can barely take a modern-day ship. The Calabar channel has not been dredged for a while now and vessels these days need drafts above 10 metres and you cannot find that around that corridor,” he explained.

“I think the port needs to be revamped and the channels dredged.”

He stated that “The same goes for the Warri port as well,” noting that “some of these ports will need to have channel management companies to properly manage the channels.”

Dismissing the insinuations that the over-concentration of port activities in Lagos alone has a political undertone, Ricketts said efforts are being made to decongest the Lagos port by redirecting some of the country’s port activities to the eastern and southern parts of the nation.

“Recall that the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, as well as the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, went on a tour after which it was decided that there will be a stop to the barging activities in the ports because it was detrimental to the internal roads which are not meant to be traversed by heavily laden vehicles,” he said.

“It was on that basis that I said some of these vessels should be encouraged to berth in the eastern ports and apart from boosting the economies of those areas, it will reduce the pressure on our roads. It will also give those in the eastern corridors a sense of belonging.”

He stated further that “The blue economy (marine economy) is so vast that nothing can affect the economy of Lagos, adding that “if the eastern corridors are utilised, it will allow Lagos to breathe, plan well and deliver the necessary infrastructure that are built to standards for better service delivery.”

Though the dredging of the Calabar port is not captured in this year’s budget of his department, Ricketts said he is working to see that the underlying issues surrounding the port and that of Warri are put to rest.

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“The management is doing all within its powers to resolve that matter. You will agree with me that that was long before I came in. In the current budget, the dredging of the Calabar port is not captured and I think we must look into that again.

“I think this is about infrastructural developments that will increase the revenue of the nation and change the narratives in the areas of operation. An operational Calabar port will also boost the economy of Cross River and all other beneficiary states along that corridor. The people of the state will appreciate President Muhammadu Buhari if the channel is dredged and it will be part of their democratic dividend. I believe it will get the desired attention in due time.

“As I said, no mention was made of Calabar port in the current budget. Maybe because of what may have transpired before, but we are working towards regenerating the port. The same situation goes for the Warri port too where we need to overcome some technical issues. I am of the firm view that the eastern ports will bounce back very soon,” he said.

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