Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has warned that before establishing deep seaports, state governments must ensure there is correlation with boosting trade volume so that such facilities do not end up as white elephant projects.
The Managing Director, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, who stated this at the second edition of a ‘Day with Nigerian Maritime Students’ recently in Lagos said if the berth occupancy and regression analysis of the existing port is not projected to an increased tendency, then the call for the development of a new port may end up failing.
According to Usman, building a new port must be based on business models with proper feasibility study that are bankable to attract prospective lenders; it should not be a thing of politics but must be cargo-oriented.
“The rate at which everybody wants to build a deep sea port, if we don’t have commensurate cargoes to service these ports, we would throw good money into bad business and at the end of the day, momentarily, we would have a lot of white elephants fluctuating our maritime domain.
“There is necessity for deep seaports, but the development must have a correlation with cargo projection because a port is all about cargo. If our ambition is beyond the cargo up- take we are expecting now and the foreseeable future, most of those projects may end up failing since there is the need to make projections as well as look at the existing ports and see their berth occupancy and then know exactly what the issues are in terms of their tendencies,” she said.
The NPA boss, who was represented by the General Manager, Monitoring and Compliance, West, Iheanacho Ebubeogu, said: “In building a port that will serve the purpose of maritime logistics, proper feasibility study on the ‘as built designs’ of port infrastructures where ports are built to the designed depth must be done. There is also the need to carry out a proper scientific engineering study to actually identify the proper location of the site in order not to fight nature, as the existing design of ports infrastructures define the maximum depth to accommodate a ship. These 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’.
While encouraging the maritime cadets not to be daunted with what they see, especially on some of the lapses on the part of government on their favour, the Director-General of the Nigerian Chamber of Shipping, Obiageli Obi charged the participants on the need to be committed to the project.
Convener of the event which attracted maritime institutions in their large number, Sylvanus Obasi, said “If we truly want to solve the challenges of Nigerian maritime students, issues of getting a training vessel for sea time experience and proper accreditation of maritime schools to ensure we don’t have quacks must be revisited and addressed, adding that the issues of developing indigenous shipping capacity to ensure employment for the graduates also requires urgent attention.”