Shippers demand probe of abandoned N20bn Calabar port dredging

The Nigerian Shippers Association yesterday called on President Muhammadu Buhari to urgently investigate the N20billion contract for the dredging of Calabar Port, which it alleged has been abandoned.

The former Vice-President, Namadi Sambo had nine months ago signaled the commencement of the dredging of the port, which was awarded to Calabar Channel Limited.

The association said for the past three decades, the contract for the dredging of Calabar channel, which stretches 84 nautical miles to the high sea, had been awarded thrice without being executed.

President of the Nigerian Shippers Association, Cross River State chapter, Mike Ogodo, at a press conference in Calabar, lamented that there were no physical evidence to show that the port would be dredged.

Ogodo, who was in company with the association’s vice president, Jackson Davos, among others, alleged that the unfortunate situation was that the Calabar Channel Management Limited had been paid the N20billion in full without carrying out any work.

According to Ogodo, the first contract for the dredging of the port was awarded in 1996 during the administration of the late Gen. Sani Abacha and the little known Chinese company showed up for a while and vanished.

Ten years later in 2006, Ogodo added, the administration of former President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded the contract again to two Dutch companies at the cost of $56million.

He claimed that both companies left the contract without completing their assignments.

He expressed grief that the happiness that trailed the November 17, 2014 commencement for the dredging was short-lived as it was obvious that there was no dredging project in sight.

Ogodo said, “On November 17, 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan was represented by his deputy, Namadi Sambo, to flag off the much awaited dredging of the Calabar port to the joy and happiness of all stakeholders.

“Sadly, our victory song has been rudely and tragically cut short. Firstly, by the evidence of what is on the ground or more appropriately, evidence of what we have not seen, and secondly, by the sad news gaining currency concerning payment for same contract which execution is yet to begin.

“We are shocked that Calabar Channel Management Limited that won the N20billion contract to dredge Calabar port has no identifiable office in Calabar.

“It will serve public good for the company and their Managing Director, Pieter Hekken, to come open and clean with stakeholders and the Nigerian public and explain why they are no longer interested with the continuation of the job.”

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