Hadiza Bala-Usman, Managing Director of the Nigeria Ports Authority, has said a new port master plan for the Badagry deep seaport project will determine if the port is viable enough to be constructed, considering the construction of another in Lekki. Both projects are in Lagos- within the Western corridor and the agency’s boss says it had halted the $2.6 billion project because the previous master plan was done poorly.

“If you look at the Badagry and the Lekki deep seaport projects, they are all within the Western ports. The port master plan will guide us on whether it is okay to have two deep seaports in close proximity to each other,” Punch quoted Bala-Usman as saying. She explained this as the reason for the cancellation of the contract.

“When I assumed office, I inherited a consultant that was supposed to do a Port Master Plan for the Badagry project, but the consultant did a very bad job. When we took the job to the consultant that did the project’s Terms Of Reference, our internal people looked at it and said it wasn’t good enough. Even the consultant that did the TOR confirmed that the job wasn’t properly done.

“So because of these issues, we cancelled the contract, and the project’s promoters took us to court. We are currently in arbitration. Now we are working on re-awarding the contract. I just gave the go-ahead for the engagement of another consultant that will do the Port Master Plan. The master plan will allow us to know where ports should be deployed in the country in-view of environmental issues, in view of commercial and financial liabilities.”

“So what we need to do now is to prioritize having those deep seaports that will have the required draft for larger vessels. Bala-Usman restated that the country’s ports are river sized in depth and can therefore not handle vessels that require a large draft. The Apapa port complex which handles 80 percent of Nigeria’s cargo is 14m in depth and today’s vessels require a depth of 17m.

“Our ports are river ports, and we need to move on to have deep seaports. In that area, we are working with Lekki deep seaport. We have signed the necessary papers, and they are in the process of completing their payment as regards their financing terms. They have built the breakwater. We are hoping that it will be a milestone achievement. We also have other proposals like the Ibom deep seaport and the Ibaka deep seaport.”

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