Construction to begin as Bonny joins planned deep seaports
The Federal Government will soon commence work on the proposed Bonny Deep Seaport project in Rivers State, according to Rotimi Amaechi, minister of transportation.
Consequently, Bonny has joined the list of proposed deep seaports in Nigeria, which brings the number of both Federal and State Governments deep seaport projects to eight including Lekki, and Badagry in Lagos State, Olokola in Ondo State, Ibom in Akwa Ibom, Ogidigben in Delta State, Agge in Bayelsa State and Calabar in Cross River State.
Apart from Lekki Deep Seaport, which has witnessed about 45 percent progress in construction works, several of these proposed deep seaports in Nigeria are still on either conceptualisation or paper work stages. This cast serious doubt in the minds of industry close watchers as to how soon these projects would be realised, if ever they would.
A statement by Eric Ojiekwe, director of Press and Public Relations, Ministry of Transport, disclosed that Amaechi gave the assurance when he visited the proposed project site.
The minister noted that in choosing the site, considerations must be made towards cost reduction and ease in paying compensations. He said that the most feasible part of the Island might be the area to the West in Finima, as it would require less dredging.
“Experts have said it will take only 500 metres of dredging at this point to get to 17metres draught which is our target for the depth of the seaport. The moment you reclaim 500metres into the ocean, you get 17metres draught without further dredging. While on the other end, you need 1.16kms dredging to get to the water. It will be more expensive to dredge 1.16km than to build rail line to this place. We can do the cost analysis and come to a decision,” Amaechi explains.
In deciding the project site, the minister pointed out, the need to ensure that NNPC pipes would not be tampered with or moved for the rail lines extending to the seaport to be laid.
“It will also be easier to pay compensations here and take the rail through this area instead of running it through the other end where there are pipes. And compensation will be paid on properties, not on land. If the land is not enough, the Federal Government would acquire more for the expansion,” he added.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, acting managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), said the essence of the visit was to reconfirm the right location for the port, adding that final studies would be made and conclusions reached.
“The port, which will have a capacity of about 500,000 Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) on completion, is a necessary infrastructure for Nigeria. Building deep seaports will bring more economic value. Nigeria will eventually become a maritime hub in Africa or the West African sub-region,” he said.
Koko also said that construction would kick off within the year and run concurrently with the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line, which also extends to the Bonny Deep Seaport.