The House of Representatives on Tuesday instructed the federal government to re-award the Calabar seaport dredging contract to a reputable company with a mandate to complete the project within a specified time frame.
The resolution was adopted following the adoption of a motion sponsored by the Hon. Alex Egbona, who requested the intervention of the Chamber.
In his main debate, the Hon. Egbona observed that the seaport of Calabar is the oldest seaport in Nigeria which shipped goods like palm oil to Europe and other parts of the world in the 16th century.
“The Chamber also notes that the port was operated privately by various shipping companies, including John Holts, until December 1969, when the Federal Government took over the port facilities from the former operators and handed them over to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
“The Chamber further notes that the development, modernization and expansion of the port complex was undertaken under the third national development plan of 1975-1980 and commissioned on 9 June 1979 by the military administration of General Olusegun Obasanjo .
“The Chamber recalls that the renovation has generated a considerable level of attention and activity, but for questionable reasons the port has not reached its full potential.
“The Chamber is aware that there have been various government proclamations on the dredging of the port dating back to the administrations of General Ibrahim Babangida and General Sani Abacha, but nothing tangible has been done to rehabilitate the port.
“The Chamber is also aware that in 2006 the administration of President Olusegun Obasanjo awarded a contract for the dredging of the harbor to Messrs. Jan De Nul and Van Oord at a cost of $56 million, but abandoned the projects in a prolonged moribund state.
“The Chamber is further aware that in 2014, former President Goodluck Jonathan launched Calabar Channel Management (CCM), a joint venture between the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and a consortium of companies led by Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited with a harbor dredging mandate.
“The Chamber is concerned that although Calabar Channel Management has commenced work, the port has not yet been dredged.
“The Chamber is aware that the speedy completion of the Calabar seaport would help decongest the ports of Lagos and reduce the difficulty of waiting hours to clear goods,” he urged.
The Chamber has also tasked the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to oversee the project and ensure that a standard depth is established to allow larger vessels to berth in line with international best practice.
To this end, the House has mandated its Ports and Harbors Committee to investigate the contracts awarded in 2006 and 2014 respectively with a view to ensuring that all factors militating against the full dredging of the Calabar Seaport are resolved.
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Kehinde Akintola – Abuja