Posted on July 26, 2023
One year after its contract was awarded, the dredging and reconstruction of the eight-kilometre Escravos channel’s breakwater, which is expected to gulp N225 billion ($300 million), is yet to take off properly due to lack of funds. It was revealed that bigger ships have been finding it difficult to sail to Delta Port.
Also, smaller vessels have to wait for high tide before they can approach the channel despite remedial dredging carried out in 2022. The channel’s breakwater, according to the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), collapsed 11 years ago and has been impeding movement of bigger ships to Sapele Port, Burutu Port, Warri Port and Koko Port.
The authority also noted that the special stones needed for the construction of the breakwater could not be found anywhere near the Niger-Delta area as six vessels ran aground in the last one month because of the damaged breakwaters and shallow depth of the channel. Although, NPA said that up-todate local and international training, simulation and manoeuvrability competence have been given to its team of pilots to ensure zero incidences of vessels running aground, leading to recently safe berthing of MT Zonda and MT Stellar and outbound vessel MT Duke, MT Vardar and MT Igbinosa on Friday July 14, 2023, despite six vessels at anchorage outbound and inbound for Bonny Island, Koko and Escravos. According to the authority, before the contract was awarded in June 2022, the berthometric study amongst other studies was carried out, adding that the contract for that study awarded to Royal Heskony, a consulting firm while the contract for construction was awarded to a firm called Fugro.
The Managing Director of the authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko, also said that the remedial dredging, which had started, was about halfway done, noting that it would enable ports in Delta State to have a better draft, receive bigger vessels and record less incidences of vessels running aground when completed. He explained that the breakwater was the single most expensive port infrastructure of any port, which had taken a lot of processes.
Belo-Koko added: “Some of the equipment needed for the construction works are not in the country; they have to be brought in from outside the country. The construction of the facility takes time; the stones needed for the construction of the breakwater are not within the Niger-Delta region and they have to be moved from their location to the construction site. “The cost of construction has been fluctuating within the range of $300 million, it could be a bit less or more depending on the exchange rate.’’ It would be recalled that a former Managing Director of the Escravos Pilots Nigeria Limited, Captain Charlie Tobi had said that the channel must be dredged after the construction of the breakwater, adding failure to dredge it would amount to a waste of resources.
Tobi also said that after the construction of the breakwater, more and bigger vessels will now call at ports in Delta including Sapele Port, Burutu Port, Warri Port and Koko Port. In a letter to the managing director of NPA, Tobi recommended that quality metal sheet should be used for the shore protection going by the dimensions and characteristics of the breakwaters He said: “We would like to bring the under-listed recommendations inclusive to you for the consultant/contractor for proper standard and lasting breakwaters. “The length, breath of the main and Island moles should be same as Lagos breakwaters. The length of the shore protection along the shoreline is 4.5miles from Ogidigben to Madangho. For the shore protection due to sea eroding the shore to the channel, salt water density 105kilogrammes and to maintain proper depth on the channel after the project and dredging, only quality marine sheet should be used for the shore protection, same as (Marina) in Lagos.”