The Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, has explained why it is difficult to dredge Delta port beyond 7.5- meter depth.
Speaking recently in an interview with our correspondent in Lagos, Bello-Koko said that there was an active pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation, NNPC, crossing certain parts of the channel and making it difficult for the agency to dredge deeper than 7.5meters.
He also said it would cost a lot of money for the NNPC to cut the pipe and lay it deeper, noting that until that was done, the agency would not be able to dredge deeper than that.
“The design is currently at 7.5 meters. There is an existing NNPC active pipe that crosses a certain part of the channel. Therefore, you cannot dredge lower than 7.5meters. We have had discussions with the NNPC on that. It is going to cost a lot of money for the NNPC to cut that pipe and then lay it deeper.”
The NPA boss also said that there was a need to ensure that the quays would accommodate bigger vessels.
“And then you now go to the quays, where the vessel is going to berth. If the limitation there is 12 meters or 10 meters, you have to reconstruct that berth to make it deeper. So, it is not just to deepen the channel; you have to also ensure that the quays are able to collect bigger vessels. We are looking at it and working with the right government agency, NNPC in particular, as it relates to the pipe. However, you see in Calabar, people are using flat bottom vessels to bring in containers. Those vessels are available also to evacuate and bring in cargoes into Delta port. But it is actually the consignee that determines where the consignments go to.”
Speaking on the traffic congestion on the port axis, he blamed bad roads and illegal checkpoints as reasons for the congestion of the port access road.
“On the issue of electronic call-up system, what we have done is to create these parks all over the place where trucks are supposed to go park and then have access to the ports, whether it is Tin-Can or Apapa. For Tin Can, the problem is the road itself, which is in a terrible state. We have been having discussions with the Federal Ministry of Works and Housing on how quickly the road can be rehabilitated. We know that around that Coconut area is bad and it is really terrible. So, no matter how efficiently you manage traffic, if the road is bad, you are still going to have problems.
“Then on the issue of illegal checkpoints, we have more incidences of illegal checkpoints on that (Delta) route than we have in Apapa. I am working with the Assistant Inspector General; we have gone around to check how many checkpoints need to be in place, where they should be and so on.”
He said that the agency had signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Lagos State government to address some of the illegal checkpoints.
“Any checkpoint outside the designated locations would be termed as an illegal checkpoint. So, some of the delays and congestions you are seeing is because of the activities of some unapproved government agencies that are stopping trucks and extorting them in the guise of checking if they have ETO ticket or not. However, we are working with the Lagos State government.