After endless failures, a new step to ensure that the controversial 84 kilometres Calabar port channel is dredged is again being considered by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA).
If approval is given by government, it was gathered that the port channel would gulp another N50 billion.
Already, the authority had decided to revisit the entire procurement process of the port channel.
Also, the authority is planning to commission a consultant to evaluate the viability of the dredging project.
The history of dredging scandals at NPA, which has lingered for over two decades, can be traced back to 1996 when the contract for the dredging of
the port channel was awarded by the Federal Government to two firms- Van Oord and Jan de Nul, to scoop out 25 million cubic metres of sand to achieve an overall draft of eight metres to enable vessels of up to 30,000 tons sail on the water.
The two firms were given N3billion for the job, while Van Oord was asked to dredge the first 44 kilometres, Jan de Nul got the last 40kilometers. But the job was abandoned.
The same contract was also reawarded 10 years after by President Olusegun Obasanjo to the same companies in 2006 at a whopping sum of N20. 44billion($56 million).
The entire length of the channel was divided between the two firms in 2002, while Van Oord was paid $26 million to dredge the first 44 kilometres, its competitor, Jan de Nul, got $30million to dredge the last 40kilometers of the channel with the instruction that the two firms should scoop out 25 million cubic metres of sand to achieve an overall draft of eight metres in 64 weeks to enable big vessels sail to the port.
Also in 2006, the same contract was awarded by a former Minister of Transport, Dr Abiye Sekibo, at N14 billion but the two firms failed to delivered.
Under President Goodluck Jonathan, Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited (NGETCL) also got N20 billion in 2014 but the contract was terminated in August 2017 over alleged fraud in the award processes and shoddy execution of the dredging contract.
This time, the authority declared that the dredging of the port would gulp N50 billion to make it navigable for modern deep sea going vessels.
According to the authority’s General Manager, Corporate and Strategic Communications, Engr. Adams Jatto, NPA will determine the economics of its scales before spending such amount on the dredging.
He said: “We want to revisit the entire procurement process because the problem is that we have to dredge Calabar channel and we are talking of about N50 billion to dredge it.
“We have to look at economic of scales. So, if we dredge to the required length, can we get vessels to come in there? So, those are the areas we are looking at to see what can be done but by and large we want to commission a consultant to look at it, give us a business case to see how viable they are if they are to be dredged but what we doing in Calabar now is to appeal to shippers with low bed to move to calabar.”