Economic Activities Dip Over Calabar Port Dredging Failure | Independent Newspapers Limited
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Business, Maritime

Economic Activities Dip Over Calabar Port Dredging Failure

Posted: Jul 31, 2015 at 12:28 am   /   by   /   comments (0)

By Andrew Airahuobhor, Lagos


Federal government is seemingly ignoring the huge potentials inherent in Calabar Port. More than N60 billion have been expended in channel dredging contract over the last decade, yet the draught remains at six meters instead of nine meters target, hampering economic activities of Cross Rivers State.

If the port is properly dredged, it will naturally be transformed to a hub of the west and central African oil and Gas logistics because of its proximity to Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun. The port is closer to the big commercial cities of the south east states of Aba, Onitsha, Nnewi, the south –south states, but cannot satisfactorily serve their maritime and logistic needs.

Calabar port has a siltation problem of 30 percent. The draft in the port is 5.4 on low tide, 6.4 on high tide. All these make it extremely difficult for large vessels to call at the port because of the low draft.

Port users in the port accuse the Nigerian port Authority for failing to dredge the port channel up to 9.8 meters, the advertised draft signed in the tripartite concession agreement– NPA, Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE) and concessionaires’.

Since big vessels cannot sail into the port, feeders’ service has come to the rescue, but is not regular. Container vessels, for example sail into the port once in three months.

The low draft of the port is taking its toll on Federal Government agencies. The Nigeria Customs Service revenue collection from imports is poor as the port is not receiving enough containers. NPA also cannot get handsome revenue as it cannot collect various dues from ship owners including demurrage.

Terminal operators lament that their investments on plant and equipment are idle in their ware houses and they are not getting returns for their huge investments. Their main sources of revenue are derived from port side activities, but because of the low draft with the resultant low patronage of the port, they cannot generate enough revenue to pay salaries and lease fees. Moreover, they cannot employ more staff.

Port users have noted that the Calabar port under this sad state cannot attract investments because of low draft that is discouraging investors to bring in their funds.

Business operators say medium and small enterprises cannot thrive in the state. The crippling effects of this on the economy of the state are enormous. Business operators also regret that cargoes meant for Calabar port are routed from Lagos port to their various destinations in the Eastern States which is not good for the economy of the region.

The hospitality industry in the state is not spared by the condition of the calabar port. The industry, according to economic operators in the state is becoming expensive. Furthermore, the low draft of the port is having devastating effects on the calabar export processing zone which has been overtaken by several tank farms that are not supposed to operate in the zone, said Mr. Mike Ogodo, Chairman, Shipping Association of Nigeria, Cross River State Branch, Calabar.

The Managing Director of Calabar Channel Management Limited (CCM), Mr. Bart Van Eeno, has said that there was nothing fishy about the contract for the dredging of Calabar port awarded to the consortium.

He said the entire contract followed due process as the firm obtained all the necessary approvals and vetting before its execution.

CCM is the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)’s Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) comprising a consortium of companies led by Niger Global Engineering & Technical Company Limited with dredging company, Royal Boskalis and Westminster Dredging.