Do you think that the Govt is serious about the development of River Ports in Nigeria?

C.A.T Agubamah (President General, NAFFAC)  River ports spur domestic trade, agriculture, manufacturing, and these in turn spur ports development. Sadly, this is not the case in Nigeria. Your question can be looked at both from socio-economic (environmental impact analysis) and economics of commercial viability. Let's look at the Onitsha port scenario for example in terms of System, Technology and Economics. Recently, FG announced its plans to develop the port on the Niger. Building port facilities, sheds and office buildings are hardly the track to follow if the river lanes are not navigable in the first place to stimulate trade and traffic.  Otunba Kunle Folarin (Chairman, Seafarers Welfare Board)  There is a need to open up inland transportation in Nigeria; the River Ports provide destination terminals for both cargo and passenger traffic. In addition, River ports link commercial and social activities bring goods and services near to consumers. Haven justified the need, there is a question of location, the development of River Ports have to be located only in places that can justify the cost by the principles of demand and supply. The desire to balance the development based only on geopolitical equation is fundamentally flawed. We have to be sure that there will be no white elephant projects where demand, supply and economic viability can not be sustained. The Onitsha River Port project meets the criteria for its establishment. Special consideration should be given to attract patronage of the port by way of tariff and port dues rebates and other incentives. The operation of the port will serve as a pilot operation as a way to measure its viability and guide against pitfalls.  Jonathan Nicole (President, Shippers Association Lagos State) Let me start with the Onitsha Port, the port lies in the route and flow of the River Niger, it has a very peculiar natural irrigation with huge supply of  natural sharp sand flowing the course of the Niger, all through to Onitsha axis. No matter how you dredge it, nature has a way of filling it up, it has been like that for ages. So, Onitsha Port can only function during falls when the river is full.  I believe that they can use flat bottom self-propelled barges to move lighter shipments to Onitsha.  The Port may not be able to handle bigger vessels because of the terrain.The Port Harcourt Port can be resuscitated together with the Warri Port as the two Ports have similar problems of insufficient draught to handle vessels with deeper draught because of line-up of underwater oil pipelines. It is unfortunate that we are having limitations in a natural river course created by our oil merchants in their desperation to dominate the oil industry. Again, the pipelines have to be relocated off the route and dredged before conventional cargo vessels can berth, otherwise, they can utilise flat bottom vessels as in the days of Bacoliner. So, the investment of relocation of the pipelines is huge, Government can do it if they really want to, their seriousness can be likened to the Apapa gridlock.  Frank Aliakor (Licensed Customs Agent) Government is not sincere on the issue of River ports construction. Nigeria has large waterways, some lead to rivers where ports can be constructed to ease the movement of ships- big, small vessels, pontoon or ocean going vessels. On the case of Onitsha port, it is long overdue, considering the volume of business going on in that region which government will benefit from immensely. Also the Lokoja port should be constructed.   Godfrey Okorie (Manager, Capital Oil Tank Farm)  I believe river ports construction by itself is a good project, that is if government means what they are saying, but on the other hand, I think it will be proper if they can activate the existing ports such as Port Harcourt seaport, Warri seaport, Calabar seaport and host of others, it wouldn’t cost as much as maybe trying to dredge new river ports, it’s a waste of resources. Let Federal government enable the old ones by so doing Lagos state will be relieved of the existing gridlock which has bedeviled the roads.  Tunji Obagbo (POTEMAN)  The day I read on pages of newspaper that Dr. Goodluck Jonathan commissioned the Onitsha port with the prototype displayed on the newspaper, it looked very splendid. Few weeks after, I was on my way to Port Harcourt when I saw the real and physical Onitsha port, I was really surprised that it was government's magic of commissioning unfinished projects. The issue of Calabar port dredging that was subjected to enquiry is still there pending. To stop all these from continuing, such matters of professionalism should not be politicised in the interest of national development, selfishness and political aggrandizement.   Eugene Nweke (Ex- NAGAFF President)You know the truth about it, if a government doesn’t have a direct agenda that will tilt towards developing other ports in the country, then the same government will wake up one day and find out that the law of demand and supply will make them see that it is very imperative that they develop other ports. The traffic gridlock in Apapa is yielding to government to decentralize and develop other ports in Nigeria. America has 364 ports and they are developing all at the same time, that is why they move everything by sea. That is why they have more ships plying their waters than vehicles on the roads, Britain have more than 100 ports. So, ports development is a key for any country to grow.  Engineer Matthew Alalade (President Merchant Navy Association)Yes, I do not see any seriousness in what government is doing. If they are serious, look at the congestion on our roads, if other ports are developed, it will ease transportation, other ports will be used and the traffic situation will be reduced. So, they are just talking, they should start something first. Mr. Stanley Ezenga (PRO NAGAFF)You know some of these things are political; the development of ports in the eastern part of Nigeria has some element of politics going on there. The Igbos are many in the freight forwarding industry and most of the importers are predominantly from the east. Even when it was concessioned, you see the way INTELS monopolized the operation. But now, be it as it may, because of the way Lagos is congested, you see containers falling on each other and all that, this could have been an ample time for massive development of the ports in the Rivers and East generally. Then, what do we see, dredging of Onitsha ports and nobody is paying attention in all that area. The government should let us know that they know what they are doing and that they have the interest of the people at heart. 

 

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