The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, yesterday inspected the proposed site for construction of the Bonny Deep Seaport.
Amaechi who was in company of the Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, the Acting MD, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Koko and experts from the Ministry of Transportation, the NPA and the contractors, CCECC, noted that in choosing the site, considerations must be made towards cost reduction and ease in paying compensations.
He disclosed that while the South-east part of the Island was also viable, the most feasible may be the area to the West in Finima, as it would require less dredging.
According to him, “The experts have said it will take only 500 metres of dredging at this point to get to 17 metres draught which is our target for the depth of the seaport.
“The moment you reclaim 500 metres into the ocean, you get to 17 metres draught. You don’t need 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 a rail line to this place. We can do the cost analysis and come to a decision.”
He also said selection of the area when finally decided upon would ensure that Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) pipes would not be tampered with or moved for the rail lines extending to the seaport to be laid.
The minister, in a statement made available to journalists in Abuja by the Director of Press of the ministry, Mr. Eric Ojiekwe, stressed that it: “would 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 would be paid on properties, not on land. If the land is not enough, the federal government would acquire more for the expansion,” Amaechi said.
Similarly, the Managing Director, NPA, Koko said, “what we did today was to reconfirm the right location for the port, although final studies will be made and conclusions reached. The other location had pipes, so we believe that this one will be perfect. It has a natural draft of about 17 metres.”
He further said that the port which would have a capacity of about 500,000 TEUs on completion is a necessary infrastructure for Nigeria.
“Nigeria has over 823 kilometres of coastline and we have always been saying that the idea of building deep seaports will bring more economic value to the country, and Nigeria will eventually become a maritime hub in Africa or the West African sub-region,” he said.
Koko also stated that construction will 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.