*proposed dredging a political gimmick
By Emma Arubi
WARRI-The promised dredging of the Escravos Bar by the Federal Government may after all not materialize as there are serious technical and human constraints working against the realization of re-energized Port activities for economic growth and empowerment of the restive youths of the Niger Delta region.
A Maritime expert and Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, Chieftain, Mr. Emma Shola-Abigor made these revelation in an interview with newsmen in Warri against the backdrop of the just concluded Warri Economic Summit wherein it was gleefully canvassed that reviving the Warri port back to its former glory of economic boom can be achieved only through the dredging of the Escravos breakwaters.
Mr. shola Abigor stated categorically that “with the numerous oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the Esrcavos/Warri river there was no way the dredging can take place unless these pipelines are removed or re-channeled” even as he wondered to what draft (depth) would they dredge the river to allow for bigger cargo vessels to navigate. He said the promise of imminent dredging is therefore a political gimmick intended only to placate the people.
He disclosed that the now booming Lagos and Calabar Ports do not have this peculiar problem oil and gas pipelines crisscrossing the under waters with Calabar river only affected by silt which can be easily cleared, noting that “the biggest problem however lies in the critical fact that the key officials controlling the economy and Seaports from time are not from the Niger Delta region but basically from the Western, Northern and Eastern parts of the country whose seaports are the current beneficiaries of comatose nature of the Warri Ports “.
He posited that they would never encourage measures geared towards revamping the Warri Ports because it would reduce the economic boom in their areas as it would also bring about revenue lost to their various states government and create massive unemployment that leads to youths restiveness and other social vices, saying that the question of waterways security challenges is a common phenomenon in the Maritime business not peculiar to Warri area alone.
Mr. Abigor further disclosed that when in the past Cargo vessels like Bacco Liner where coming to do business in the Warri port they were doing so at great cost because at a point they would have to discharge their containers into a bigger barge and then charter a tug boat to transport same to the port, adding that it made business non-profitable and scared off business and investors.
While stating that if these oil and gas pipelines are removed the dredging can take place, he opined that more interest should be directed and focused on agriculture because of the vast land mass available in the Warri axis and Delta state in particular and this he noted would create the needed job and feed the people in the face of the current global economic reality.