The history of port development in Nigeria dates back to the middle of 19th century. This was long after the onset of sea borne trade and transactions which followed the adventures of early explorations on the African coasts. Initial efforts towards provision of facilities for ocean going vessels were the attempts to open up the entrance to the Lagos Lagoon. Considerable littoral drift occurred along this coast; and the constantly shifting channels in the bar at the entrance made entry very difficult.
On February 1, 1914, the first mail-steamer S/S ‘AKOKO’ drawing 5.64 metres entered the Lagos harbour. Two months later, vessels began to use the facilities provided at the Customs wharf on Lagos Island.
Prior to this time, explorative and trade activities involving European missionaries and businessmen in Africa made the existence of a port on the wide coastal stretch from Calabar to Lagos imperative. Specifically, in the 15th century the Europeans opened marine contract and discovered the rich natural resources in the West and Central African region that were needed for their economic and industrial revolution. As a result, the Bight of Benin was opened up by John d’Aveiro, of Portuguese in 1485 and in 1553, Captain Wyndham of Britain landed on the nation’s coast
The first major breakthrough in opening up the Lagos Lagoon was in 1906 when orders were placed for dredgers to work at the bar. During the same year, approval was given for the construction of the first length of the East Mole. The construction of railway from Lagos to Otta and then to Abeokuta provided easy transportation of stone needed for the construction of the mole. Depths over the bar improved steadily as the entrance moles were pushed further sea words. Decision to develop Apapa Port was taken in 1913 and construction of the first four deep-water berths of 548.64 metres long at Apapa began in 1921. Twentyseven years later (1948), an additional 762 metres of berthage were constructed as continuation –downstream of the first four berths and about 41 hectares of reclamation behind the wharves were formed to accommodate transit shed, warehouses and marshalling yards.The discovery of coal of Enugu motivated the building of ports in the eastern flank of the country; Work commenced on the building of Port Harcourt wharf during the first quarter of this century.
In 1913, Port Harcourt Port was opened to shipping by Lord Lugard, the Governor General. The railway line to Enugu was completed three years later in 1916. A berth for colliers was dredged out and constructed as a place where loading could be affected.
Four berths of 1,920 feet long were developed at the Port Harcourt Port in 1927, and following a report by the Port Harcourt Port Advisory Board, the sum of four million pounds was provided for the first major extension work of the Port Harcourt Port in 1954. During this era (Pre 1954) the concept of port as an integral part of social and economic development of a country had hitherto not been properly addressed. Nigerian Railway Department –Cargo Handling at the quay in Lagos & Port Harcourt Ports operation &management therefore remained under the control of different Govt. Departments Marine Department-Maintenance of the harbour channel and berthing of vessels Public Works Departmental–Maintenance of Quays.
Within the first eleven years of its existence as a corporate body, NPA focused on fundamental issues vital to the success of the ports industry and equally relevant to the overall national economy. In recognition of the importance of having trained hands on its payroll and in response to the policy of Nigerianization in the years proceeding independence in 1960, the Nigerian Ports Authority embarked on an elaborate manpower development through Cadetship Training Awards. Emphasis was on Marine –Engineering, Accountancy, General Management, Civil, Mechanical and Electrical Engineering. By the early...