By NBF News

STAKEHOLDERS in the maritime industry have commended the dredging of the port channels and removal of the wrecks from the water ways by the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and its technical partners Lagos Channel Management Company saying that the venture will attract businesses into the country.

Some of the stakeholders who spoke to Vanguard, said that investors are now scrambling to do business in Nigeria after realising that the ports are deep enough to take huge vessels.

The investors were convinced about Nigeria's ability after a Maersk Line large container vessel, with capacity to carry 4,500 containers and a huge submersive Oil Rig berthed at the Lagos port for repair works.

The maintenance works currently being carried out on the rig has employed over 300 Nigerians skilled workers. Executive Chairman, Sunlight Shipping and Trade Mr Joseph Abraham who spoke to Vanguard at the recently concluded West Africa maritime logistics conference held in Lagos noted that the investors had considered Malabo, Equatorial Guinea, before making up their minds on Nigeria. 'The majority of investors, who initially banked on Malabo for the service of the oil rig, are warming up to come to the country based on the efforts targeted on channel management and wrecks removal.

'Some foreign investors in the oil rig business have reportedly cancelled an oil rig construction, which was earlier planned for Equatorial Guinea and brought it into Lagos, on the premise that business prospect in the country with developed and deepened channels would be better than in Malabo.' he added.

Abraham said the arrival of the giant oil rig would not have been possible, but for the ongoing dredging and removal of the critical wrecks which dotted the Lagos channels. He said the arrival of the rig has sent positive message to the international community that the Lagos seaports were ripe for the hub status.

with its positive implication on youth employment, skill development and revenue boost for both the Federal Government and the business community.

The Managing Director, Crown Shipping Venture, Mr Sesan Olowoporoku, expressed satisfaction at the development at the port noting very soon Nigeria will attain the hub status that it had longed for.

The channel management efforts, which has spanned over three years is beginning to yield positive results , with positive impact on international trade. The shipping expert recalled that before the the ports were concessioned , vessels that called at the nation's ports could not carry more than 1, 000 TEUS of containers because of limited draught of the channels. But with the constant dredging of the channels and removal of the critical wrecks by NPA, importers and other port user can only hope for the best.

This feat, he added, was possible because the NPA has dredged the channels to a draught of over 13.5 meters to enable bigger vessels sail into the Lagos seaports.

He however appealed to the government, to continue to assist NPA so that it would not fail in its core responsibility of ensuring safe navigation to local and foreign vessels.

A motor vehicle importer, Mr Yinka Elias, explained that the presence of wreck had caused marine accidents in the past adding the removal of these wrecks has increased the call of ships into the ports.