BY DICKSON AGBO
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has called for caution on the parts of the government and people of Nigeria in the establishment of Deep Sea Ports across the country.
Managing director of NPA, Ms Hadiza Bala Usman who made this call while delivering a lecture with the title,” The Prospects of A Hub Port Status, a Deep Sea Port and Everything In Between”, at the second edition of a Day with Nigerian Maritime Students organized by Platform Communication in Lagos last week stated that though there was necessity for Deep Sea Ports, its development must have a correlation with cargo projections as port was all about cargo.
Represented by the general manager Monitoring and Compliance West of the NPA, Captain Iheanacho Ebubeogu, Usman averred that if the investors’ ambition was beyond cargo off take that was expected now and in the foreseeable future, most of those projects may end up failing or where infrastructures were built, they may end up becoming white elephant projects since there was the need to make projections as well as the need to look at the existing ports and see their berth occupancy and then know exactly what the issues were in terms of their tendencies.
She added that that would now aid every decision to either develop what is existing and what is required in the foreseeable future in terms of cargo and the types of ships that can bring them.
The NPA MD observed that the maritime environment was an environment where one fights nature therefore, one of the considerations should be that even if one decides to have a port that will serve a purpose of maritime logistics, such a person must have to carry out a scientific engineering study to actually identify the proper location to site the port so that one could fight nature effectively.
“What we are saying is that the as built designs of ports infrastructures abinitio defines the depth, the maximum depth you can into, those will affect the structural strength and the pilings as well as the size of the ships that will call and berth in them. You cannot exceed those parameters and their tolerance and that is why you see the Nigerian Ports Authority emphasizing on as built design.
Where there are cargo prospects and existing infrastructures cannot do that, then that will now take care of a better and stronger infrastructure to handle bigger ships and deeper draughts”, she said.
On the benefit of having a hub status for Nigeria, she said,” if Nigeria achieves a hub status, what you are going to see is that we will control the maritime logistics in the region. When I say the region, I mean the West and Central Africa or what is known as the Gulf of Guinea region. Again, it will provide jobs for these gentlemen and ladies who are aspiring to take up a career in the industry.
“It is going to improve our demands for logistics like fuel and so on, people will come here and take bunkers, people will come here and take fresh water. It is going to find trade for our cabotage because when all the ships discharge their cargoes at the hub, the other ships will carry them to other arterial ports and these are creating value added services”.
Earlier in his welcome address, chief executive officer, Platforms Communications, Mr. Sylvanus Obasi disclosed that the programme aimed at further awakening the consciousness of the Nigerian maritime operators and government agencies to the undeniable fact that the future of the industry lies in the hands of those students adding that seated at the venue were the future Directors General of NIMASA, managing directors of NPA, Executive Secretaries of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council captains of maritime industry among others.
Obasi counseled that if the future of the industry was to be secured, efforts must be made to secure the future of those students by providing adequate capacity development for them.
“If the likes of SIFAX Group, Starzs Investment, LADOL, ENL Consortium, AP Moller, ABTL, Intels and other maritime giants want to maintain their business empires, they must take very seriously issues affecting these students because these are the people who will take over from them in the next 10 and 20 years to come.