Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, has commenced the dredging of the N20 billion Calabar port channel after prolonged controversy and several failed attempts.
The latest dredging was approved in August by President Goodluck Jonathan, and awarded to an indigenous firm, Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited, partnering with the NPA to form the Calabar Channel Management Company, CCM.
President Jonathan approved the dredging of Calabar channel with a view to boosting the economy of Cross River State and the country as a whole.
Speaking on the delay of the project, Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar, said the delay in the dredging of the channel had impacted negatively on the economic activities of the entire country.
He said: “The cargo volume into West and Central Africa sub-region has so much increased that the government needed to reduce pressure on other ports by deepening the Calabar port channel so that it can accommodate bigger vessels and give the growing business interests a boost. In 2004, the Federal Ministry of Transport and the NPA initiated proposal to dredge the channel from its original depth of eight meters to 10 meters.
“Consequently, contracts were awarded to two companies who executed the contract in line with the contract agreement however, because the channel needed to be put into effective use, an additional length needed to be dredged. The contract was awarded to the two companies based on volumes established in 2004 when a biometric survey was carried out.”