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Calabar Port has never received container vessel for 25 years – Port Manager

By Chris Njoku

The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has disclosed that for the past 25 years, Calabar Port has never received a container vessel.

This was stated by Mr Olumati Festus, the Calabar Port Manager on Friday during an investigative visit to the Calabar Port Complex by the House of Representative’s Adhoc Committee on Ports and Harbours.

Festus said the situation has been that way because the Calabar channel has not been dredged to allow bigger vessels to come into the port.

The Port Manager said if the dredging was done, more vessels would come to the Port and this would boost the economic activities of the zone, create more employment and ultimately benefit the nation.

Calabar Port has never received container vessel for 25 years - Port Manager

According to him, other issues that had affected the Port negatively include the deplorable state of the road into Calabar where the port is located and the issue of theft.

“We had to develop a technique in bringing vessels to Calabar by only asking them to come when the tides are high because any vessel that comes when the tide is low runs the risk of going under.

“The draft of the Calabar channel is about 5.2 mitres which is quite shallow, it needs to be dredged to about 9 mitres to enable the vessels to come in.

“Also the access road to the east and to Calabar is a complete nightmare for cargo owners as a truck bearing cargo from Calabar to Akwa Ibom takes between four to five hours for a journey of one hour and eight hours to Rivers for a journey of three hours,” he said.

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While appealing to the Federal Government to look into the challenges of the Port urgently, he said the management of the Calabar Port was looking at ingenious ways of attracting vessels to the Port.

He said when they came into office the port only received four to six vessels monthly but we increased this number to about 20 to 21 vessels monthly by going out to different stakeholders in the industry to get them to use the port.

He, however, added that it was necessary for a 30 per cent concession rate to be given to importers that use the Calabar Port to encourage them, which according to him had been done before.

Responding, Mr Nnaji Nnolim, Leader of the ad-hoc committee from the House of Representatives said it was necessary for Calabar Port to be rehabilitated and its channel dredged because of its importance in the zone.

Nnolim who represents Nkanu East/Nkanu West in the green chamber, said they have an ongoing programme on Ports rehabilitation that would commence soon adding that they would do everything within their powers to ensure that Calabar Port benefits.

“The Calabar Port is very critical not just to Nigeria but to West Africa and would create a lot of jobs if it is maximally operational, we are looking towards ensuring that its draft is dredged to about 9.5 mitres,” he said.

Calabar Port has never received container vessel for 25 years - Port Manager

Similarly, Mr Peter Odey, the Deputy Governor of Cross River said the Port was an evacuation corridor to the Gulf of Guinea, while thanking the Federal Government for adding its dredging in the 2024 budget.

Odey assured of the state government’s plan to pay compensation to the tune of N400 million to communities where the access road into Calabar passes through, noting that the state was available in every way to make the Port better.

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