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About 450 kilometres from Nigeria’s commercial capital a 10,000 horsepower monster of machinery walks its way through the sands of the River Niger. This dredger, Pirat X, is capable of working at depths of up to 50 metres and transporting up to 2,500 cubic metres of soil-water mixture per hour and can dredge a distance of 6km without any external booster. This enormous unit, one of the largest dredgers in the country, has consistently demonstrated its power and reliability and has laid the groundwork for one of Nigeria’s most crucial infrastructure projects – the Second Niger Bridge.
The dredging operations of the Second Niger Bridge project are just the kind of technically challenging undertakings we at B&Q Dredging and Construction have come to be known for. But our story has not been without major challenges. One of the major challenges we had to surmount before getting to where we are today was having to convince clients that an indigenous Nigerian company had the capacity to handle such projects that, until a decade or so ago, were only reserved for foreign companies. Having a local company that can fully execute challenging projects while also complying with the Local Content Act has been a win-win situation for all our clients.
One of the key areas that have set us apart as an indigenous company in Nigeria is the ability to maintain our dredgers and keep them functioning at the highest levels. Dredgers are highly specialized equipment with very sophisticated components. A single malfunction ultimately impacts the operation of the whole machinery.
Now the parts for the components are practically impossible to find locally, and even off-the-shelf outside the country. Maintaining all our equipment and specialised components at the highest level means we are able to stay ahead of the curve, particularly considering the foreign companies who are not impacted by the macroeconomic realities of Nigeria.
From conceptualisation and design to execution and commissioning, our goal is always to deliver an excellent job while placing a priority on the safety of our people and the environment. This is why we are one of the few dredging companies in Nigeria that is ISO 14001 certified. Our ISO 14001 certification is a testament to our commitment to reducing our environmental footprint by adhering to effective environmental management systems. It reinforces our dedication to looking at the long-term impact, activities have on the world around us.
One of our major areas of focus at B&Q Dredging and Construction over the past decade has been to build local capacity. With our consulting arm, we support other local dredging companies, helping them surmount specific technical and creative challenges. This has helped build on the local wealth of knowledge and competence, positioning Nigeria favourably on the global stage.
Back to Lagos, one of our major ongoing projects is the land reclamation of 128 hectares in Elegushi. This area will serve as the foundation for a new city rising up from the ocean. As a sustainable company, we understand that projects such as land reclamation often have environmental impacts. Nigeria is our country and anything that affects the land will affect us all, sooner or later. This is why we never fail to conduct an Environmental Impact Assessment before any project to evaluate the kind of effect the project will have on the environment, and also the socio-economic, cultural and human health/lives of the surrounding communities.
It has not been an easy path, but Nigeria is now at a point where more and more indigenous dredging companies are being recognised for quality service delivery despite numerous challenges. The next decade will be incredibly exciting for dredging and construction. When the Second Niger Bridge is completed, it will stand tall as a testament to what Nigerians can achieve in Nigeria.
James OkeatiOperations Manager, B&Q Dredging and Construction
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