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NPA to begin Escravos Bar dredging November 2nd, The management of Nigerian Ports Authority NPA has expressed optimism that the long-awaited dredging of the Escravos bar that had impeded the coming in of big vessels and other ocean going barges to Warri Port would soon commence.
The Escravos Bar dredging is part of measures being put in place to make the seaport commercially viable. Managing Director of the NPA, Ms Hadiza Usman, who made this disclosure at a stakeholders meeting held in Warri, recently, noted that the NPA board had concluded all necessary feasibility studies on the dredging and was waiting for ministerial approval, which might come in the next three months.
We are hopeful that within the next 12 weeks, we will get the necessary approvals from the ministerial tenders board to enable us engage the contractors that will provide dredging works and navigational aids to the Escravos Bar," she said. A statement issued and signed by Ibrahim Nasiru emphasized NPA's concerns over stakeholders worries about the state of access roads to the Lagos port complex in Apapa, especially.
The dilapidated state of the roads, which has gone on for almost two decades has become a thing of concern to everyone transacting business in the Apapa area of Lagos including the Authority, whose prime facilities are located in this axis.
This accounts for the Authority's decision to collaborate with other stakeholders who agreed to a Memorandum of Understanding facilitated by the Federal Ministry of Power Works and Housing to reconstruct the entire Wharf Road.
Although the repair of roads is not the statutory responsibility of the Authority, it has committed the sum of N1. As a result of this, the stretch of road for the outbound lane Ijora Bridge-Barracks Junction has been cordoned off since work commenced.
In anticipation of the congestion that the current reconstruction was bound to cause, the Managing Director of the NPA Ms Hadiza Bala Usman had set up a committee then chaired by the General Manager, Western Ports on the decongestion of Port access roads.
Palliative works were carried out on the damaged portion of the roadway and is now designated an alternative route in and out of the Lagos Port Complex. Further repair works were equally carried out on other alternative routes around the corridor.
In addition, realizing the need for a bleeder route to relieve pressure on Wharf road during construction, the GM of the NPA Western Zone heads a committee of all Terminal Operators, Millers and other stakeholders which worked to fashion out ways of fixing the Tin Can axis route with enduring palliative works while the wharf road construction is ongoing.
A major achievement of the committee is the identification and location of a number of privately owned sites suitable to accommodate a minimum of 6, trucks at any particular time.
To ensure that this initiative does not run into any institutional impediments, the committee engaged with land owners in the area and has established contacts with the Lagos State Government.
The Authority is also exploring the feasibility of deploying multi modal cargo haulage around the Apapa axis. To this end, talks are on with the Nigeria Railway Corporation to encourage movement of cargo by rail to and from Apapa Ports and increase the frequency of evacuation since one train movement is equal to about 70 truck movements.
The Authority has also gotten approval for the movement of cargo by barges over water as alternative to road transportation. The president also approved the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone Terminal in Rivers State as a multi-purpose cargo terminal, saying its non-designation as such previously did not in any way legally obstruct or compromise the operations of the free zone for all cargoes, including oil and gas.
Intels, previously NICOTES, which among others, was granted a concession to operate terminals at the ports has dominated the business to the consternation of other operators who accused it of running a monopoly with the connivance of senior government officials, particularly at the NPA.
Its most evident stranglehold was in oil and gas logistics services, which it claimed to have an almost exclusive concession over, as most cargoes in that sector were directed to its terminals for discharge by government agencies saddled with the responsibility of regulating port operations.
Many other operators, including Josepdam that was formed inand in May that year got a concession from the federal government to handle bulk and general cargo, complained loudly about what they termed Intels' monopoly of the business. So loud was the agitation that shortly after she took over in September last year, Usman promised to institute a policy reform that would end the said monopoly.
She would seem to have delivered on her promise, setting up a policy reform committee whose recommendations were approved last month by the president. Entitled, Conveyance of Presidential Approval - Re: Report on Concessioned Terminals in the Ports, the letter read: Accordingly, the FGN rejects the categorisation of oil and gas multi-purpose cargo terminal, as this is alien to the relevant concession agreements and inconsistent with global shipping practices.
Consequently, any policy that designates certain ports by cargo type is cancelled. Intels won the bid for the concession of operation of port terminals, including the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone in Rivers State, following the implementation of the port reforms and concessions initiated by the federal government during the Olusegun Obasanjo administration.
The exercise, which was supervised by the BPE, divested the management of the NPA of the day-to-day running of the terminals as well as cargo handling. Largely owned by an Italian, Mr. Gabriel Volpi, with former Vice-President Atiku Abubakar as another major stakeholder, Intels had used its presence of more than three decades in the industry and huge financial muscle to crowd out other players who were too weak to resist its dominance in the face of the preferential treatment it enjoyed from key government officials and regulatory agencies.The management of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has expressed optimism that the long-awaited dredging of the Escravos bar that had impeded the coming in of big vessels and other ocean going barges to Warri Port would soon commence.
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