The Federal Government, through the Federal Ministries of Transportation and Justice, has commenced out-of-court settlement in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) $12.5million Calabar Port dredging contract awarded to Niger Global Engineering and Technical Company Limited in 2014 sequel to the channel management joint venture signed by the two entities, according to information from NPA sources.
Speaking to newsmen after a tour of the Calabar Port recently, NPA MD, Mohammed Bello-Koko, said the two parties have resumed discussions on how to settle the issue out of court to facilitate continued work on dredging the channel for vessels with deeper draught to call at the port.
Bello-Koko also paid a courtesy call on the Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, where he disclosed that the dispute between the agency and the dredging company stalled the dredging project.
In his own words, “the channel management was awarded many years ago but there is litigation between the Nigerian Ports Authority and the contractor that was awarded the contract and this has inhibited our ability to dredge the channel. But, what we have done in recent time is to start looking for out of court settlement.
“The port authority is working with federal ministry of transportation and ministry of justice, they have resumed discussions in terms of how to settle this out of court. That has to be done in order for us to either return the same contractor to continue dredging or appoint another company to do the dredging of the channel. That has been what has delayed or stopped the dredging of that channel, we have taken it very serious, it is one of the reasons why we are here today and to also meet with terminal operators and discuss with them, reassure them that government is taking all necessary action to ensure that the issue is taken care of as soon as possible.”
On plans to solve the problem of limited draught into Calabar port, he revealed that discussions with importers for more vessels to berth at the port using flat bottom vessels were being going on in addition to considerations about whether a new dredging contractor and/or new channel management firm would be appointed.
The Calabar Port Manager, Festus Olumati, thanked the executive management of NPA for the massive support to the port which he said enabled a number of achievements, including improved revenue, ISO 9001-2015 certification, and increased ship traffic in the last five months.
According to him, “within the period under review, ship traffic into Calabar Port recorded high returns. The number of vessels received was 72 while the Gross Register Tonnage (GRT) is 1,611,441 and a cargo throughput of 990,154.
“The cargo turn around time is 4 days per ship with 16 container TEUs and 15 percent berth occupancy.
“From January to May 2022, our revenue growth earnings increased as follows: revenue generated in dollars, $6.6million; actual revenue in dollars collected, $5.8million; revenue generated in naira is N646million and the revenue collected in naira is N309.2million, he said.
As part of the visit, the Managing Director commissioned a fire station building and a pilot cutter.