Pains arising from Federal Government’s wicked neglect of Warri Seaport
By GbaramatuVoice Editorial Board
The inconsiderate abandonment by the Federal Government of Nigeria of one of the nation’s most strategic Seaports – Warri Seaport, in Delta state, among others, is not only indicative of the numerous problems facing the people of the Niger Delta region, but also an expose of unwillingness by the government over the years to address problems which possess potent capability to affect the stability of Niger Delta as a region.
For a better understanding of where this editorial comment is headed, It is a truth that since completion of the Escravos Bar Project in 1964, the breakwater has been the gateway to the Escravos channel while the channel has in turn become the gateway to the Delta ports.
The Escravos Channel according to reports has remained the only route for oceangoing vessels to the Delta ports. This is apart from the Escravos river mouth being home to the Chevron oil station serving a submarine oil field 11 miles (18 km) offshore. For about a decade or more, the Escravos breakwater has been submerged, and the channel silted. It is reported that the channel was last dredged in 1997.
‘This has resulted in its gradual abandonment by heavy tonnage merchant ships alongside the ports that it serves, namely the Warri, Koko and Sapele ports which have gradually grown dormant. Pilots that navigate ships through the channel have for over 8 years (emphasis added) decried the breakdown of the breakwater, noting that vessels were diverting from the channel to avoid grounding and that the government was daily losing revenue in hundreds of thousands of dollars as a result.’
Today, a visit to Warri city where the Sea Port is located reveals one thing; A Nigerian Port Authority (NPA) that was once a centre of commercial activities but presently a shadow of itself.
Aside from being littered by wrecks of abandoned ships with the adjourning seas covered by weed hyacinths-depicting desertion, non usage and outright lack of commercial activities, save for skeletal efforts by the operators of privately owned business within the premises, the level of ‘desolation’ that the Warri seaport projects to a first time visitor is not only alarming but a reality that all Niger Deltans of goodwill must worry about.
Also alarming is GbaramatuVoice latest discovery that dredging of the port or its expansion was neither considered nor captured in the nation’s proposed 2023 budget estimate currently before the National Assembly. Also tragic is the understanding that the National Assembly has a lawmaker from Delta state who is the number two man in the senate, in the person of DSP OvieOmo-Agege. The greatest of the crisis is that the Senator representing the Delta South Senatorial district where the Port is situated in the person of Chief James Manager, has neither raise a motion nor draw the attention of the senate to this ugly situation.
The strategic implication of this information is that there is no end in sight for the current woes of neglect that have befallen the Warri Sea Port.
More troubling to GbaramatuVoice in addition to the above concerns are the questions as to: Why the Federal Government chooses to abandon Warri sea Port despite its strategic location and function in the past years? Why must the Federal Government continue to allow Lagos Sea Ports at Apapa and Tin Can Island to continually get congested all through the years whereas Warri and others in the Niger Delta can provide veritable alternatives if well utilized? What is the economic benefit of centralizing shipment in the country as against the globally preached decentralization? Is the President Muhammadu Buhari led Federal Government oblivious of the fact that Ports decentralization provides alternatives, saves time, is more secure and efficient and promotes ease of doing business? Who is advising the Federal Government on issues such as management of Sea Ports in the country?
Is the Federal Government unaware that such thoughtless abandonment of the Sea Port have directly and indirectly led to thousands of job losses and slowed down businesses in Warri City? Is the Federal Government unmindful of business frustrations and economic discomforts the non-functional state of Warri Sea Port have caused importers/exporters resident in Warri and its environs as they have to travel all the way to Lagos to export or take delivery of their shipments? What stopped Honourable Rotimi Amaechi, an illustrious Niger Delta son, who was Nigeria’s Minister for Transportation for 7-years and some months, from revitalizing Warri Sea Port or any other within the region such as; Koko, Calabar, Burutu and Onne, among others.
Why have successive administrations in Delta state (May 1999 till date) not deemed it necessary to convince the Federal Government about the urgent imperatives and economic benefits of having the Warri Sea Port and others revived? What about the Federal Lawmakers (past and present) from Delta state, particularly Senators that represented the Warri area where the sea port is located? What efforts have they made, or making to right this present wrong done to the state?
In the interim, GaramatuVoice holds the opinion that even if answers are provided to the above questions, it will not in any way erase the feeling among Deltans that the Federal Government and of course elected public officials in the state have failed the people of Delta state.
To correct this feeling among the people, the Newspaper calls on the Federal Government to address the current poor state of Warri Sea Port. The Federal Government must not fail to remember that in reviving the Sea Port, more jobs will be created, more businesses created and criminality will be reduced to the barest minimum.
GbaramatuVoice also align with the thought of well foresighted Deltans that dredging the Escravos channel and rebuilding its breakwater at this auspicious period is to breathe new life into the ports and towns of Warri, Burutu, Sapele, Koko and Forcados as it promises to attract bigger ships to stimulate domestic and international shipping traffic; and the gains of these activities will diffuse into the larger economy.
The best time to act is now.
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