Indications are that N13b invested in the dredging of the Escravos and Warri Channels in Delta State would come to waste if the federal government fails to upgrade the Warri port to a national export destination.
Making this appeal at the weekend was Daniel Reyenieju, a lawmaker representing Delta State in the lower chamber of the National Assembly.
According to him, having spent N13b to dredge the channels, it would not be economically wise not to put it to its required use.
Besides, the lawmaker noted that if Warri port becomes the nation’s export destination, Lagos port and the attendant challenges of clearance, congestion, transportation and overstretched facilities among others would be eliminated.
He said by moving all export related activities to Warri port, such policy would make it a corridor for both originating shipments and empty containers.
Besides, Reyenieju opined that the nation stands to generate trillions of naira annually as a result of ease of doing business at Lagos and other ports as a result of a functional Warri port.
He said: “What I am calling the federal government to do is to make Warri port an export designated port as a matter of policy. This has got nothing to do with laws; it is just operational policy of the Ministry of Transport and the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) is to designate the Delta Port as an export zone or export destination.
“Whatever that needs to be exported out of this country should go out through that corridor while whatever that needs to be imported can come in through the Lagos Port and any other port. That may not foreclose the need to export few oil and gas materials through the Warri port.
“There’s need for us to make sure that the port becomes very effective after the dredging, because we are not going to spend about N13bn to dredge a place and at the end of the day the place is not going to be put into proper use,” he stressed.
Justifying the dredging of the channels, the lawmaker said it was long overdue, adding, “Delta is the only state in this country that has four ports; Warri Port, Sapele Port, the Koko Port and the Burutu Port. These are heavy cargo ports in terms of petroleum export terminals; the Warri refinery terminal and the Escravos terminal where crude oil is exported out of the country. So, the essence of the Escravos which was dredged about 45 years ago, became very necessary.”