Citing the wrongful ceding of government responsibilities, including marine services, to the promoter in the Outline Business Case (OBC), as well as a “wrong masterplan,” the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has cancelled the contract for Badagry Deep Seaport and was already processing fresh bids for a new port masterplan.
NPA Managing Director, Hadiza Bala-Usman, disclosed that the project’s OBC was reviewed and found to have given away some responsibilities of government, against which she had written to the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the promoters of the project detailing the roles of government as stipulated in the Port Act.
“They cannot take it away and say they are going to provide such services,” Tribune quoted her to say. “We are currently discussing with them to review the project’s OBC so that it states what their obligations and government obligations are.
Bala-Usman said she inherited a consultant that did a “very bad job” of the project’s port masterplan, and “when we took the job to the consultant that did the project’s Terms Of Reference (TOR), our internal people said it was not good enough. Even the consultant that did the TOR confirmed that the job wasn’t properly done.
“So, because of these issues, we cancelled the contract, and the promoters took us to court. We are currently in arbitration. Now we are working on re-awarding the contract. I just gave the go-ahead for the engagement of another consultant that will do the port masterplan.
“The masterplan will allow us to know where ports should be deployed in the country in view of environmental issues, commercial and financial liabilities. The Badagry and Lekki deep seaport projects are all within the Western ports. The port masterplan will guide us on whether it is okay to have two deep seaports in close proximity to each other.”
Meanwhile, in view of the dynamics of the shipping industry, which has opened up an era of larger vessels now calling at seaports worldwide, Bala-Usman stressed that Nigeria needed to fast-track the development of deep seaports to make its ports competitive.
According to her, “these large vessels require a draft of 17meters to 18meters, and it is not possible to dredge a channel of 5meters to 17meters. So, we need to prioritise having those deep seaports that will have the required draft for larger vessels.
“Our ports are river ports, and we need to move on to deep seaports. In that area, we are working with Lekki deep seaport; we have signed the necessary papers, and they are in the process of completing their payments as regards financing terms.
“They have built the breakwater; we are hoping that it will be a milestone achievement. We also have other proposals like the Ibom and Ibaka deep seaports.”