Mr. Aminu Diko, Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), has appealed to the Federal Government to dredge the Warri/Escravos river to rejuvenate commercial activities at the Warri port. Diko made the appeal on Thursday shortly after he led a team of the Commission on inspection tour of facilities of the concessioned terminals at the Warri port.
The terminals inspected include: the Julius Berger, Associated Maritime Services Ltd (AMS) and the Integrated Logistics Services (INTELS).
Diko expressed satisfaction at the significant investment put in place by the concessionaires. The DG said that concession had contributed greatly to the growth of the economy noting that Julius Berger for instance, one of the concessionaires, had invested almost 23 million dollars to purchase equipment.
”The concessionaires have made significant investment running into billions of dollars to improve their facilities which was part of the development plan.
”The monitoring and evaluation visit is a critical component of the mandate of the ICRC, helping to ensure that infrastructure assets that have been granted to the private sector by the Federal Government are improved upon.
”So far, it was successful, we also had the opportunity to interact with the guarantor which is the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA),” he said.
Diko noted that there was a dearth in vessels sailing into the Warri port which by implication had affected the anticipated revenues accruable to government.
”As a result of restiveness, vessels are not comfortable coming into Warri port, with its attendant negative impact on the anticipated business opportunities which is a setback for the concessionaires.
”The channels were supposed to be dredged by government overtime because big vessels cannot come in due to the shallowness of the depth.
”Any big vessel coming will have to stay somewhere to reduce the cargoes to make the vessel light and that takes a lot of time and additional cost and it is a major disincentive to businesses,” he said.
Diko commended the NPA management for providing adequate security for the terminal operators and other stakeholders in the port. He added that the development had boosted the confidence of the international community to transact business in Nigeria.
”There are several Naval boats at the different terminals permanently located to provide security to both the workers and ships coming into and going out of the port.
Earlier, the Delta Port Manager, Mr. Abubakar Umar who conducted the ICRC team round the concessioned terminals identified draft as a major problem in the port.
”Ocean going liners cannot come in also, the importers have concerns about the security in the waterways,” he said.
Mr Henry Osumbor, the Public Relations Officer of Julius Berger Terminal, said the company had met the statutory requirement as regard fees, taxes, insurance and port terminal maintenance.
”We have executed the developmental plan to the last letter and are trying to engage liners to boost business.
”The image of Warri port from the past is still hanging, importers are not willing to come and do business,” he said.
Also Mr Jimoh Ohwo, the Director, AMS Warri base said the company’s staff strength had increased from 15 to 68 with additional 171 dock labourers (casual).
”AMS officially took off in 2007, we have built perimeter fences, access control with ISPS, CCTV cameras, illumination and Boardroom as part of our developmental plan.
”Between May and June 2014, we had three vessels with combined tonnage of 260,203 metric tons,” he said.
Mr Ranko Donanchi, Head of Operations of INTELS decried dearth of business at the Warri port noting that they handled 16 vessels in 2015.
”We aligned with the federal government policies in areas of port development and standardization , local content initiative, technology transfer, stable economic environment and community development among others,” he said.