By Codratus Godson & David Ejiohuo
The oldest seaport in eastern Nigeria, the Port Harcourt port, may soon be written off due to alleged old age, lack of viability and massive attack of piracy. Those hoping for its repair and dredging to deepen the port may be disappointed as a top official fears the port may collapse if dredged.
The alarm was raised by a Rivers State indigene working as top director in the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA). The PH port was in decline until recently due to what the authorities of the NPA described as a technical fault and the ever-rampaging sea pirates in Nigeria water ways.
Dr Davis Seconte, manning a sensitive unit of the NPA as executive director, marine and operations, dropped the bombshell recently when he spoke with airport correspondents at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
According to Dr Seconte, the Port Harcourt port may be sidelined because of some shortfalls in the depth and some inadequacies inherent in the port.
The major problem with the port, according to the Director of Operations, is the inadequate depth of the port and the inability to improve on it as to make it deeper, compared with the modern sea ports all over the world.
He explained that the port is land-locked and that any attempt to further dredge and make it deeper could jeopardize the entire sea port facilities that he said are fast aging.
According to him, the future of modern sea ports was in their depth because of the modern large sea vessels now used all over the world.
The PH port, he explained, was far below the expected standard and could not be remedied by further dredging because it could collapse and pose a problem.
Seconte, however, said there was hope still left for the port, if converted to a modern fish terminal. “Yes, the old port could still be relevant, if converted to a modern fish terminal. It could still attract much business activities that will generate revenue for the state and the nation”.
According to him, the Eastern ports would still remain relevant in the scheme of things when the deep sea port in Bonny and Calabar are completed and commissioned for operation. His words; “The two sea ports in Bonny and Calabar will play major key roles for the NPA in future. Apart from these two ports, the ones at Onne town in Rivers State could still be deeper, expanded and will remain relevant in revenue generation for the nation”.