Stakeholders in the shipping sector from both Lagos and Onne ports have frowned at the recent ministerial order that containers should be moved from Lagos ports to Onne port, Rivers State.
A cross section of the operators who spoke with Shipping Position Weekly on the directive argued that the order was ill advised and will likely cause congestion at Onne port.
Those who spoke in Lagos were more concerned about the logistics and cost implication of moving the containers back to Lagos where their owners are probably based. They argued that the consignees could not have been based in the eastern part of the country.
They also argued that it was likely to cause friction in the elite oil and gas port and that rather than direct transfer of such abandoned containers to Onne port, the minister should have looked for a vacant land around Lagos to convert to stacking facilities for the abandoned containers.
Frowning at the order, the national president of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA), Chief Ernest Elochukwu said if the minister had sought opinion, he would have been advised that the decision was totally wrong and that it would be counter productive.
“It is the most ill-advised idea that I have heard in a long time, he just wants to cause problems for Onne port, because I don’t know how anyone can justify that, what he should do is to dispose of containers that have problems in Lagos ports in Lagos instead of moving them to Onne to create further logistics and operational problems for the port in Onne”, he stressed.
Speaking in the same manner, Port Harcourt-based freight forwarder, Prince Olayiwola Shittu said the decision was not only shocking, but also ill advised. “That is the most unthinkable thing to do, Onne is for oil and gas and it has limited space to accommodate oil and gas goods, he declared, even as he maintained that it can only cause problems for Onne port.
According to him, “the minister should take the containers to Koko or Sapele, why should they choke Onne oil and gas which is the mainstay of our economy with abandoned containers. Its very unfair , our government has lost it again”.
He was empathic that the decision would choke Onne port, adding that if you bring in 200 containers from Lagos, where is the space. “It is certainly going to cause congestion in that port, thye should take the containers to moribund ports, government can clear lad on the outskirt of Lagos for that purpose.
He suggested that the containers should be transferred to Calabar port which according to him is not enjoying high patronage at the moment.
Apart form that, he also raised the issue of cost of moving the containers to Onne, saying that it can not be as expensive if government decides to clear virgin land around Lagos and Ogun for the containers and put security men on guard.