Over 200 cargo vessels have berthed at the Warri Port in the last couple of months, as security improves on the waterways.
The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), who disclosed this at a stakeholders’ forum yesterday, said reduction in sea piracy and security breaches in the area underscore the positive development.
It was gathered that the forum was convened on the directive of the Chairman, Board of Directors of the NPA, Emmanuel Adesoye. The aim is have stakeholders in the port industry exchange ideas on how to bring Delta Ports, Warri, to their former glory days.
Delta Ports Manager, Simeon Okeke, said the improved activities at the Warri Port was also due to the remedial dredging of the Escravos Channels, which have enabled larger vessels to access the Warri port; replacement of the critical buoys that were critically missing, rehabilitation of port facilities, illumination of the port, the repossession and ejection of illegal occupant from the trailer park, among others.
Okeke said that in no distant future, towage services would be efficiently handled as same had been given to a third party, adding that efforts were at a conclusive stage for the company to begin work. Documentation and payment processes had also been improved upon by the management through e-payment, e-SEN and Revenue Invoicing Management System (RIMS), he said.
“Incidents of security breaches or threats have been reduced to the barest minimum to the extent that we no longer have reports of sea piracy on our channels. We also want to state that the existing peace and security in the Delta Ports would not have been possible without the cooperation of the host communities. Peace and security would not have been possible without the cooperation of the royal fathers of the host communities. They have played their various interventionist roles creditably,” Okeke said.
The NPA board chairman, Adesoye, added that the Warri port and other ports in the state would be a major hub in maritime business when the innovations and upgrading of the port facilities were completed.
However, some of the firms operating at the terminals expressed concerns over the depth of the channels within the terminals, which had barred heavy vessels from berthing at the terminals.
They warned that unless the channel is dredged by at least nine metres, there would be low or no activity at the terminal.
The general manager of one of the terminals, Henry Ajor, said: “If we are to lessen the maritime traffic in the Lagos ports by using the Warri port, the channel within the port must be dredged to handle bigger vessels. If we want to increase business in Warri, which is critical to Delta, we need to dredge the terminal so that bigger vessels can come in.”
Also, the Shipping Trade Group complained that elsewhere, pilotage is 24-hours service, but at the Warri Port, they are restricted to some hours for some unknown reason.
They had also been assisting the NPA in paying some pilotage claims, and that up till now, the NPA had not reimbursed them.