Johnbull Oribhabor, the National Financial Secretary, Association of Nigerian Licenced Customs Agents, has appealed to the Federal Government to take adequate measures to save the Warri Port in Delta State from collapse.
Oribhabor made the appeal on Monday in Warri in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria.
He said that the Warri Port, which used to be a beehive of commercial activities in the past, had almost gone extinct due to prolonged neglect by successive governments.
Oribhabor said that the association had written to successive governments on the need to dredge the waterways leading to the Warri Port to revive the dwindling economic activities at the port.
He said: “ANLCA has made frantic efforts by writing successive governments on the importance of the Warri Port to the economy and the need to develop it for optimum performance.
“The Warri port has been inactive over the years and at various conferences and seminars, the association has consistently cried out on the need to give Warri Port the desired attention, but our efforts have been in vain.”
According to him, Escravos water, which is the only entrance into the Warri Port from the Atlantic Ocean, has not been dredged in the last 20 years.
Oribhabor said that about 65 per cent of activities in the oil and gas industry, which included drillings, survey-piping and wire line jobs, occurred mainly between Escravos and associated creeks leading to Warri Port.
Oribhabor said that the continuous usage of the waterways by drilling rigs, houseboats and jackups had created silts on the water beds, resulting in extreme shallowness of the Warri Rivers.
“Big vessels cannot come into shallow waters, hence the need to regularly dredge same so as to increase its depth and draft,” he said.
Oribhabor stressed the need for the Warri Port to be given the same attention being accorded to both the Lagos and Port Harcourt ports.
He said: “Ships suffer congestion in Lagos and Tin Can Island ports.
“They get diverted to neighboring countries, yet Warri Port is idle.
“Senate Committee on Transport visit Lagos/Tin can regularly, they never visit Warri Port and when any team visits, they chat with port manager and depart.”
Oribhabor decried the high freight charges on cargoes, adding that they were capable of scaring vessels and port users away from doing business in the Warri Port.
He urged government to adjust the freight charges.
He said that the facilities at the Warri Port were relatively new, functional and did not require refurbishment.
He added: “All it needs is to dredge her water ways.”