NPA, Stakeholders Bicker over Dredging of Calabar Channel

Eromosele Abiodun

The dredging of Calabar Channel is threatened as major stakeholders in the project and the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) are bickering over who is responsible for the delay in commencement of the project.

The Managing Director of the NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman had during a recent interview with the Nigerian Television Authority (NTA), stated that the NPA had carried out a detailed investigation and faulted the dredging work done by Calabar Channel Management Company (CCM).

But the Managing Director of CCM Limited, Mr. Bart Van Eenoo has refuted the claims and called on the NPA to do the needful for the dredging which was stopped by the NPA to re-commence.

According to Eenoo, all the stakeholders at the Calabar Port including the NPA’s Station Manager in Calabar had alluded to the fact that CCM carried out appreciable work on the dredging.

He added that some of the stakeholders always aboard the dredgers during the cause of the dredging to have a feel of the work done until the NPA suddenly disrupted it without formal communication to CCM.

“If we may ask, who is the NPA MD fooling? If no work was done as it is being alleged by her, why was the initial payment made to CCM when it was on record that NPA participated in all the work done by the CCM as its (NPA’s Project Resident Hydrographic Surveyor and Technical Auditors on the project-CARES Limited) were always on board the dredgers working on the project and certifying for payments only after verification that what is presented by the Consortium tallies with the work done and in accordance with the Joint Venture (JV) agreement?, “he queried.

Going down memory lane, he said the NPA openly advertised for the establishment of a Channel Management Company for the Calabar navigation channel, which Niger- Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited, duly bid and won leading to the establishment of CCM with a Joint Venture (JV) agreement with the NPA.

He said the NPA in an advert titled :“Public Notice No.3551: Invitation for pre-qualification for the management of the Access Channels to all Nigerian ports,” and published in several newspapers on Wednesday, April 21,2004, invited bidders which Niger- Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited, leading a consortium of companies submitted bid and won.

“The entire contract followed full advertisement in the media and due bidding processes with all the necessary approvals and vetting of the agreement by the Office of the Attorney General of the Federation (AGF) before its execution. It was after a rigorous exercise that our consortium won the bid. It is the same consultants – Mobotek that handled the selection process for the Lagos Channel Management Company and the Bonny Channel Management Company that conducted the bidding process which our company passed the financial and technical bids and was duly handed a ‘No Objection’ Certificate by the Bureau of Public Procurement (BPP), ”he added.

He maintained that the present management of the NPA has sinister motives against the project as it has blatantly refused to hold any meeting with the management of the CCM since assumption of office but has been hobnobbing with managers of other channels.

“It is curious that even after an insider at the NPA instigated a petition against the CCM to the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) that no work was done, an investigative panel with the EFCC that looked into the matter and certified that work was done, yet the NPA MD is saying a different thing. How can anyone accuse Boskalis and Westminster Dredging, internationally acclaimed companies of not doing a job they had satisfactorily executed,” he said.

Eenoo stated that before the NPA disrupted work, CCM had achieved several milestones on the dredging with a minimum depth of six datum because, “our company attaches great importance to the project given its economic significance to the country in general and particularly the North-Central, North-East and South-South regions.”

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