Following reports of six vessels grounded at the Escravos Channel, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has revealed that the vessels entered the channel illegally.
Managing Director of NPA, Mohammed Bello-Koko, disclosed this in a statement in Lagos, saying: “The occasionally reported incidences of vessels running aground cannot impede the channel as they are vessels operating illegally without NPA Marine Pilots onboard. The vessels ran aground only because they veered off the channel and safety marked areas due to incompetence.”
Bello-Koko explained that although the Escravos breakwaters constructed to prevent the siltation of the Warri channels, collapsed decades ago, the NPA has concluded the survey and mapping of the channel.
“NPA is at conclusive stages of securing relevant approvals for the best financing option to fund its reconstruction. The authority has put mitigants in place to ensure safe berthing of legally operating vessels in the spirit of trade facilitation,” he said.
He noted that the up-to-date local and international training, simulation and manoeuvrability competence building of the highly experienced pilots of the NPA had ensured zero incidences of vessels running aground.
The NPA helmsman added that it had enabled the safe berthing on July 14 of inbound vessels MT Zonda and MT Stellar and outbound vessel MT Duke, MT Vardar and MT Igbinosa, with six (6) vessels at anchorage outbound and inbound for Bonny Island, Koko and Escravos.
He also said taking cognizance of peculiarities of the Warri channel, the authority had procured and installed adequate buoys for Warri, realigned the entrance buoys, docked and reclassified vessels.
Bello-Koko disclosed that the NPA had stipulated frequent simulation training and retraining for all the pilotage crew to enable them to respond quickly to the exigencies of the channel.
He pointed out that to enhance its domain awareness capability to detect and frontally keep illegal vessels at bay, the authority recently awarded consultancy for the installation of Vessel Traffic Services (VTS) across all its port locations, adding: “The first phase is already completed.”
It would be recalled that the authority had recently acquired and deployed security patrol boats and intensified its collaborations with relevant security agencies to stem the activities of such illegal vessels whose activities resulted in such breaches.
Bello-Koko assured all stakeholders doing business legally in the Warri Pilotage of navigational safety in spite of the urgent need for the breakwater reconstruction.
“We are working assiduously under the guidance of the Ministry of Transportation and Federal Government to sustainably and comprehensively address the challenges of all Delta Ports. We have put measures in place to ensure nothing impedes business continuity for all those operating within our safety and security rules,” he stated.
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