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Dredges Provide Base for Building Roads through the Nigerian Jungle

Photos by Dale Degelman

Ten years ago, John Davids Dredging of Nigeria purchased a dredge from Ellicott to pump sand for road base, a pattern that expanded as African contractors purchased more and more dredges from manufacturers around the world.

“John Davids was one of the first buyers of Ellicott dredges from when we got heavily involved about 10 years ago,” Paul Quinn said. Quinn is vice president of sales for Ellicott, and has been a frequent visitor to Nigeria in the past decade.

“A typical use of our dredges in Nigeria is dredging sand from a creek or river, and pumping it onto marshy, swampy areas to firm up the ground so structures such as roads or houses, can be built there,” he said. “This is the same as how most of Florida was developed, and nearly all new civil construction in the Niger Delta is done in this manner,” he said.

The earth-moving equipment Degelman and crew barged across the river to the road site.

The Ellicott 370 Dragon pumps sand from a nearby creek to the stockpile.

Dale Degelman is general manager of John Davids Dredging, and is at work on a Nigerian road building project that will connect Tinapa, a newly-built resort and Free Trade Zone, to the village of Adiabo Eseku – approximately 15 kilometers (about 9.3 miles). The contract is valued at 4.3 billion Naira, or US$ 25,294,117.

The crew on the completed stockpile site, ready to receive sand slurry from the dredge.

Degelman is the son of Norbert Degelman, who, along with Harold Morgan, designed and built the first Mud Cat dredge in 1962. Dale followed in his father’s footsteps and chose a dredging career, and has been in Nigeria managing dredging projects for the past seven years. He provided IDR with a description and photos of the project to illustrate the work involved in building a road through dense jungle.

A crewboat glides along the creek toward the project site.

“The project completes a contract that another company attempted and failed to complete in 1999,” Degelman said. “It involves creating a roadbed through dense jungle, pumping in sand using an Ellicott 370 Dragon to a stockpile, then moving sand to the site using dry equipment,” he said. By late April, the crew had built nine kilometers (about 5.6 miles) of roadway, with three kilometers (about 1.9 miles) left to go.



The site of the stockpile next to an un-named creek where the dredge will work. Degelman’s crew hand-cleared an area to begin stockpiling. The road crosses the creek at this point.

“We had to start by hand-clearing a small area to start stockpiling sand,” Degelman said. “We started dredging to create a small stockpile so we could bring in off-road trucks, dozers and excavators across the river by barge, to begin hauling sand to the site,” he said. “We then brought in marsh buggies to clear a bigger stockpile area, and had the marsh buggy clear a 30-meter-wide (about 98.4-foot-wide) roadway two kilometers (about 1.2 miles) long.

“We have one 370 Ellicott stern wire dredge digging at the river site, and we will be mobilizing a second 370 up a creek to pump sand to the halfway point to cut down hauling time,” he said.

A marsh buggy clears away vegetation in the 30-meter-wide (about 9.8-foot-wide) roadway.

The 15-kilometer (about 9.3-miles) Adiabo-Eseku Road in Odukpani Local Government Area, is one of the key road projects of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) in Cross River State.

The road location before clearing.

The new link road is expected to reduce traffic on the Itu-Calabar Road by 50 percent, and reduce the travel time to the capital city by about one hour.

John Davids Dredging is a full-service, indigenous dredging contractor working in capital and maintenance dredging, offshore trenching, land reclamation and coastal restoration. Its dredging fleet includes the Azehowa I, a 12-inch Ellicott 370-33; The Azehowa II, a 12-inch Ellicott 370-42; the Michelle I, an Ellicott 670-42, and the Michelle II, an Ellicott 670-50. It has ongoing projects for both public and private owners. Major recent projects are the Phase 3 dredging of the Niger River – River Nun; creating a commercial sand stockpile for Orascom, Cross River State; land stabilization and reclamation for private residences in Lekki, Lagos; and pipeline work for Nigeria Agip Oil Company.

A backhoe digs from the stockpile as the dredge discharge continues to fill it with sand.

A dozer levels sand on the roadway.

This view of the unfinished roadway, looking back toward the completed section, gives a sense of the amount of sand needed to stabilize the area.

It is part of John Davids Group, which also includes John Davids Construction, a civil engineering company, and Western Equipment, which sells and rents heavy construction equipment in Nigeria. The company has offices in Calabar, Port Harcourt and Lagos, Nigeria.

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