NPA To Stake Holders: We Are Committed In Dredging Calabar Ports Water ways
The shallow channel of the Calabar port has continued to scuttle stakeholders, port operators and the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) against one another.
This is because the Calabar port channel dredging plan is shrouded in controversy especially by past administrations. Despite about $56million the federal government put on its capital project and maintenance dredging, the vessel water channel is yet to be dredged up to the required 9.8meters which will make it attract bigger vessels.
Pointedly, the $56 million contract for the dredging of the Calabar Port Channel was awarded in 2006 to an undisclosed firm and remains uncompleted till date.
The federal government awarded another contract in November 2014 yet to an undisclosed company at N20 billion to complete the project. It was awarded at the amount of N3billion in 1996 but it was later re-awarded in 2006 at $56 million.
However, the current leadership of the Authority has set machinery in motion to make the Calabar port viable and for vessels to call at the various terminals at the port.
To achieve this aim, the MD, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman put together a committee to determine the extent of work done vis-a-vis amount paid for the dredging yet to an undisclosed firm.
However the MD instituted a probe into the contentious contract because so much money has been stanched into the project and yet the dredging project has not been executed.
The NPA management met with the Calabar Channel Management (CCM) demanding the hydrographic report and a full data on the status of the contract.
The MD NPA observed that many operators at the Calabar Port had shut down their operations due to the shallow channel, which had impeded bigger vessels from berthing at the port.
However, a group known as Transparency Advocates recently alleged that there is plot by the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to scuttle the realization of the Calabar Port by deliberately putting hurdles on the dredging of the channel.
The hurdles, according to the group, is tempering with the report of the internal committee which was set up to look into the complaints of non-payment by the Calabar Channel Management Company (CCM).
But the NPA management has rebuffed this allegation saying the MD was doing everything within her power to make the Calabar port viable for bigger vessels to berth.
Speaking with a News Source yesterday, the general manager, Public Affairs, NPA, Effiong Nduonofit said the Authority is committed to the dredging of the Calabar channels.
He said, “The said report has not been considered by the management not to talk of scuttling it. One thing I can tell you is that my MD is committed to the Calabar channel dredging like other channels.”
The group, through its spokesman, Barrister Ayo Fasakin had told reporters in Lagos on Monday that the NPA management has tempered with the report of the internal committee which was set up to look into the complaints of non-payment by the Calabar Channel Management Company (CCM) in which it was recommended that CCM be paid and to continue with the dredging in line with the contract’s terms.
Fasakin alleged that in order to achieve its goal, the NPA management altered the initial report which was signed by the committee members at the last page of the report and given certain pages to some of the committee members to make fresh inputs outside the earlier one submitted by the Committee which unanimously recommended that CCM be paid its invoices and continue with the dredging with the terms of engagement.
“The setting up of the internal committee by the NPA was a prelude to an earlier one set up by the Federal Ministry of Transportation which equally recommended that CCM be paid its invoices and to continue with the dredging but rather than comply, the MD is talking about reviewing the contract. On whose orders is she doing all these?” he queried.
He said from the foregoing, it was crystal clear that the MD was working at the behest of a cabal in the organization otherwise, “how can one justify that the same MD who on assumption of duties visited the Calabar Port and after listening to the complaints of Ports users over the non-dredging of the Port, announced to the whole world that all the complaints by CCM would be resolved so that the dredging would resume immediately. But as soon as she returned to the office the cabal convinced her and she has changed gear”.
Fasakin said that it is on record that the MD has met with the management and Boards of the other Channel Management (Lagos and Bonny) but has blatantly refused to meet with that of the CCM, fueling speculations that she has something sinister against CCM and indeed, the Calabar Port.
He also called on President Muhammadu Buhari and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amechi to immediately set up an investigation into the matter because of the importance of the Calabar Port to the Nigerian economy, particularly the Eastern region.