In a concerted effort to ensure that the perennial problem of siltation on the bed of Cross River is permanently addressed, the Federal Government has established a firm to dredge and manage it.
The move, which will ensure that Calabar channels, the route through which ocean going vessels get into Calabar port, remains navigational throughout the year. The establishment of the firm, which is in collaboration with private investors on 60/40 equity participation, follows similar arrangement for Lagos and Bonny channels.
While Lagos Channel Management Limited (LCM) holds sway in Lagos channel, Bonny Channels Management Limited (BCC) is responsible for the dredging and management of Bonny channels over the years.
Minister of Transport, Senator Idris Audu Umar, disclosed this at the 2013 ministerial platform in Abuja.
LCM and BCC were initiated by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) when Chief Adebayo Sarumi was its Managing Director. The establishment of the two firms was sequel to the inability of the authority to effectively dredge and manage the channels over the years, making it difficult for ocean going vessels to call at Nigerian ports.
In spite of the criticism that trailed its establishment, the two firms have succeeded in making the channels navigable just as they have increased their depth.
Though Umar did not disclose the private investors behind the establishment of the new firm for Calabar channels, THISDAY checks revealed that they may not be significantly different from those who promoted LCM and BCC.
Umar also announced the procurement of security boats for Lagos ports by NPA. The boats, which would be used by men and officers of the Nigerian Navy, would help in beefing up security in Nigerian territorial waters.
He also revealed that the procurement process for what he called “command communication control and intelligence centre” for all ports including the upgrading of signals stations was in progress.
On Greenfield development, he said the federal government has made steady progress in the construction deep seaports at Lekki and Badagry, Lagos State; Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State; Ogidigbe in Delta State; Olokola in Ogun and Ondo State States; and Agge, Ekeremor Local Government Area, Bayelsa State.
The minister explained that the deep seaports which would be constructed through public private partnership (PPP) would not only decongest the ports in Lagos but also create job opportunities for Nigerians.
His words: “A memo will soon be presented be presented to the federal executive council (FEC) to seek council approval for the development of Lekki seaport, Lagos State through public private partnership for a concession period of 45 years in favour of Messrs. Eurochem Technologies Corporation Limited and the Lagos Free Trade Zone Company in the sum of $1.4 billion.
“Steering and Project Development Committees from the construction of Ibaka and Badagry deep seaports through public private partnership (PPP) would have also been inaugurated. Considerable progress has been recorded resulting in the appointment of a Transaction Adviser for Ibaka deep seaport by the Akwa Ibom State government, which has submitted initial due diligence report and a draft outline business case (OBC) to the Project Steering and Development Committee in line with the ICRC Act 2005”, he added.