By Eromosele Abiodun
The Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Hadiza Bala Usman has canvassed for the deployment of Flat Bottom Vessels (FBV) in channels with low draught in the nationâ€™s seaports.
According to the Managing Director, the use of the FBV in some shallow draught channels would serve as a workable solution for the draught limitations in some channels especially in Calabar and Warri.
Bala Usman, who spoke in Lagos, weekend when she received members of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, led by its President, Mr. Andy Isichei, stated that the Authority would be willing to work with the chamber for the mutual benefit of both parties.
She recalled that it was a thing of joy that a flat bottom 200 meter long and 61,000MT heavy vessel FBV, berthed last year in Calabar Port despite the draft limitations of the channel. This, she explained goes to show that such vessels can navigate in such shallow channels.
She therefore appealed to stakeholders in the nationâ€™s maritime sector, especially those in the shipping sub-sector, to devise ways of collaborating with the Authority to see the presence of more FBV in such channels considering their comparative advantage.
While restating that the NPA would be very willing to midwife and facilitate any proposal which would help make the new arrangement possible, Hadiza Bala Usman, expressed the strong conviction that with the cooperation of Stakeholders such as members of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping and other relevant stakeholders, the proposal on the FBV is realisable.
Earlier, the President of the Chamber, Isichei had told the NPA boss that the shallowness of some sections of the channels is of concern to members of the Chamber and said the FBV should be encouraged in such channels.
In the meantime, the NPA has reiterated that it shall continue to accord priority attention to suggestions and recommendations from stakeholders in the nationâ€™s maritime sector in the overall interest of the sector.
Bala-Usman gave the assurance when she received members of the Maritime Arbitrators Association of Nigeria (MAAN) who paid her a courtesy call in her office in Lagos.
While urging stakeholders to come forward with useful suggestions on critical areas of the Authorityâ€™s operations, the Managing Director reiterated that the Authority shall consider such submissions on their merits, and within budgetary provisions.
She called for a more elaborate effort amongst stakeholders in the maritime sector, through collaboration on specific workable areas and joint partnership.
Earlier, MAAN President, Barrister Adewale Jones had appealed for greater collaboration between the Association and the Authority, while at the same time commending the management of the organisation for its bold step, which he described as germane to the growth and development of the nationâ€™s economy.