• Engineer Says “Divers Can’t Validate Dredged Water Depth”
A Liberian engineer based in Ghana, Mr. Gabriel T. Boston has differed with the Managing Director of the National Port Authority (NPA), Madam Matilda W. Parker over recent comments that the NPA has sent divers in the port of Sinoe to validate the depth of the harbor after it was dredged by Van Oord Dredging and Marine Contractors.
Few weeks ago, Ms. Matilda Parker in an interview with Truth FM and ELBC disclosed that "the Port of Greenville had been dredged, and the NPA has sent divers to "validate whether the Dredging Contractor had dredged the port to the required depths."
Madam Parker disclosed that the NPA doesn't have the "sophisticated equipment" to do the validation work, so it had to use divers.
In an interview with this paper, Mr. Boston said validating the dredging works carried out in the Port of Greenville and the ongoing work in the Freeport of Monrovia, is the only appropriate way to ensure that the contractor did not dredge less than expected or dredged more than required in the areas/locations specified.
He said in order to achieve the required depths in both Ports, as required under international best practice, adding that the NPA should have contracted qualified hydrographers to conduct hydrographic surveys of the dredged areas inside and outside of the ports.
He indicated that it is impossible for divers to "validate" the works done by dredging companies, and it is highly unprecedented for divers to be given such task by key public entity like the NPA.
"How do divers validate depths? Are they going to use measuring tapes under the water at every square foot or square meter of the areas dredged in the port basin or entrance channel of which must be several acres or hectares of water? I think the NPA is heading the wrong way and no one is speaking about this." Mr. Boston Disclosed.
The NPA has on numerous occasions deliberately failed to share information about the US$21M dredging contract with the media. The Deputy Managing Director for Legal Affairs, Mr. Jeffery George told this paper that 'the NPA is not allowed to share the contract with the media'.
According to our research payment to the dredging company, Van Oord is based on NPA's validation report which will be done by divers instead of engineers who usually carry out surveys and calculate the quantities of materials dredged from their charted survey data.
In an interview with a Liberian diver who preferred not to be named, "Divers are usually engaged to identify wrecks and other objects (cargo, etc.) and retrieve them if possible, take underwater photographs of the conditions of underwater structures, to position navigational aids, carry-out underwater welding, etc., but certainly divers do not "validate depths. .
The Ministry of Land, Mines, and Energy have hydrographers and /hydrologists who would have loved to do such a simple technical work for the NPA, but Madam Parker said she has technical knowledge and did not need the service of an engineer.
When the Dredging Contract was signed on Sunday, January 29, 2012 , the Managing Director, Madam. Maltida Parker told the Daily Observer that she was ":excited that the dredging contract has been signed after eight months of tense negotiations with the Dutch company." According to our research, this length of time expended on negotiating with a dredging contractor deserves to go down in the Guinness Book of Records as the longest dredging contract negotiation ever.
The Liberian Engineer wondered as to "Why should it take eight months to negotiate with Van Oord? Wasn't there a second ranking firm to negotiate with, as a result of an evaluation process?
Did the Management not know that a validation or verification of dredging works had to be done professionally by an expert or firm with expertise in such an area of surveying?
What could it have cost NPA to hire and expert firm, or contact the Ministry of Lands, Mines, and Energy for advice on such a major and capital intensive undertaken?"
He disclosed that even the ship staff in the NPA Marine Department would have at least provided advice and guidance, since they know about navigation.
Mr. Boston said "it is unprecedented and certainly a baffle that requires answers relating to performance of the NPA Management. As such, we urge the NPA Board of Directors to please intervene to ensure effective oversight and use of public resources, as this Government and the Liberian people need and expect your undivided attention in the premises."