*As Amaechi, Koko inspect proposed site
Port Harcourt — The Federal Government says the construction of the Bonny Deep Seaport will kick off within the year; and run concurrently with the construction of the Port Harcourt-Maiduguri rail line, which also extends to the seaport.
The seaport, when completed will make the country a maritime hub in Africa or the West African sub-region, as it will have a capacity of handling about 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers.
The Minister of Transportation, Mr Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, disclosed this at the weekend, while inspecting the site for construction of the proposed deep seaport in Bonny, Rivers State
Ameachi pointed out that the site was selected because it met the requirements needed for work to be carried out smoothly, these requirements included cost-effectiveness and ease in paying compensations.
He also stated that while the South-East part of the Island was also viable, the most feasible may be the area to the West in Finima, as it would require less dredging.
“The experts have said it will take only 500 metres of dredging at this point to get to 17metres draught which is our target for the depth of the seaport.
“The moment you reclaim 500metres into the ocean, you get to 17metres draught. You don’t need further dredging.
“While on the other end, you need 1.16kms dredging to get to the water. It will be more expensive to dredge 1.16km than to build a rail line to this place. We can do the cost analysis and come to a decision.”
The Minister also said selection of the area, when finally decided upon would ensure that NNPC pipes would not be tampered with or moved for the rail lines extending to the Seaport to be laid.
“It would also be easier to pay compensations here and take the rail through this area instead of running it through the other end where there are pipes. And compensation would be paid on properties, not on land. If the land is not enough, the Federal Government would acquire more for the expansion.”
Also, the Acting Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Koko, confirmed that the port when completed, will have a capacity of handling about 500,000 twenty-foot equivalent unit containers.
“What we did today was to reconfirm the right location for the port, although final studies will be made and conclusions reached. The other location had pipes, so we believe that this one will be perfect. It has a natural draft of about 17metres.
“The Port which will have a capacity of about 500,000 TEUs on completion is a necessary infrastructure for Nigeria. Nigeria has over 823 kilometres of coastline and we have always been saying that the idea of building deep seaports will bring more economic value to the country, and Nigeria will eventually become a maritime hub in Africa or the West African sub-region.”