The Nigerian Ports Authority has cancelled the contract for the $2.6bn Badagry deep seaport project, stating that the deep seaport master plan was wrongly done.
The Managing Director of the NPA, Hajia Hadiza-Bala Usman, was reported to have explained that what was currently required in Nigeria was to fast-track the development of deep seaports that would make the nation’s seaports competitive.
She said, “The Outline Business Case for Badagry deep seaport was reviewed. Some of the responsibilities of the government were taken and put in the OBC for Badagry port. I have objected to that and written to the Federal Ministry of Transportation on this. I have also written letters to the promoters of the Badagry deep seaport, telling them that roles like marine services are responsibilities of the government as stipulated within the Port Act. So they cannot take it away and say they are going to provide such services. We are currently discussing with them to review the projects OBC so that it states what their obligations are and what the government’s obligations are.
“And while doing that, we also understand that they will need a Port Master Plan. That is also a challenge that we have with the Badagry project. When I assumed office, I inherited a consultant that was supposed to do a Port Master Plan for the Badagry project, but the consultant did a very bad job. When we took the job to the consultant that did the project’s Terms Of Reference, our internal people looked at it and said it wasn’t 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 project’s 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 Master Plan. The master plan will allow us to know where ports should be deployed in the country in-view of environmental issues, in view of commercial and financial liabilities.
“If you look at the Badagry and the Lekki deep seaport projects, they are all within the Western ports. The port master plan will guide us on whether it is okay to have two deep seaports in close proximity to each other.”
Bala-Usman argued that in line with the change in the dynamics of the shipping industry, larger vessels were now calling at seaports worldwide.
She added that the large vessels required a draft of 17meters to 18meters and it was not possible to dredge a channel of five meters to 17meters.
“So what we need to do now is 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 have 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 payment as regards their 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 deep seaport and the Ibaka deep seaport.”
The Federal Government had earlier emphasized the establishment of deep seaports to decongest Apapa port. President Muhammadu Buhari also directed that all ports constructed in the future must have rail links to move cargoes by sea and avoid the current pressure on the roads and bridges.