Maritime stakeholders under the aegis of the Shippers Association of Lagos State (SALS) have demanded the probe of the N17.5 billion spent on the rehabilitation of the Warri port by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
This is even as the apex shippers association stated that the N17.5 billion infrastructure investment made by the NPA at the Warri Ports has not reflected in the fortunes of the port which has nosedived over recent years.
It will be recalled that the Olu of Warri, Ogiame Ikenwoli Emiko recently stated that the Warri port and Koko ports, both in Delta State, are currently in an abandoned state.
Speaking exclusively with the Nigerian Tribune over the weekend, the President of SALS, Reverend Jonathan Nico stated that billions of naira spent by the NPA on the Warri port has not reflected in the current status of the port following its dwindling fortune.
According to him, “if NPA had spent N17.5bn rehabilitating the Warri ports, then that port would not be in the state it currently is. What NPA claimed to have spent is supposed to be visible to the naked eyes in terms of increase in cargo operations at that port.
“I have been talking about this Warri port for some time now. The idle state of the port is part of the reason why many of the young men in Warri take to militancy because there are no jobs for them even after graduating from the university.
“The 0nly thing Warri has is the port. But it is currently in a sorry state. I know that Intels operate from Warri port and that is all about the port.
Not much takes place there. Vessels still prefer the Lagos ports even when the cargoes they want to discharge are meant for the South-South and South-Eastern region of the country.
“The money spent by the NPA should be probed since it’s not tied to the current management of the agency. This money was spent by the immediate past management of the NPA, so we need to know how it was spent. Questions should be asked on what type of infrastructure have been put in place for N17.5 billion.
“First and foremost, the channels eliding to the Warri port must be navigable so that vessels can come in and out of the port. That is when we can say we have a port in Warri. But if most of the times, cargoes are being evacuated from mother vessels through barges, then we don’t have a port in Warri. What is in Warri is a transit jetty.
“If N17.5 billion has been spent on the Warri port rehabilitation, then we need to know what that money were spent for. Such money should have reflected on the current state of the port.
“If N17.5 billion was spent on the Warri port, then lighter vessels should be able to go there and berth. Self propelled barges should be able to move cargoes from the bigger vessels to the terminals.
“We at SALS understand that there are currently too many underground pipes that need to be relocated to ensure ease of movement of vessels at the Warri port. But with N17.5bn, that ought to have been fixed long time ago.
“We want Warri port to be functional because that will take the strain off our roads to that area from Lagos. So on the N17.5bn rehabilitation project handled by the NPA at the Warri port, we need answers on how such money was spent.”
In 2011/2012, the NPA had awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the Julius Berger Terminal ‘C’ Old Port in Warri, Delta State for the sum of N9,200,000,000.00. The contract was awarded to Julius Berger Nigeria Ltd.
Also under the same period, the agency awarded the contract for the rehabilitation of the AMS Terminal ‘B’ Old port also at Warri port, Delta State for the sum of N7,300,000,000.00. The contract was awarded to Messrs China Harbour Engineering.
The third project embarked upon by the NPA at the Warri port was the reconstruction of Perimeter wall fence at a fee of N989,687,040.30. The contract for the perimeter fencing of the Warri port went to Messrs Setraco Nigeria Limited.