The Federal Government has expressed determination to reposition the Onne Port in order to maximise its huge potential in export and import trades, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, Minister of Transportation, disclosed in Onne, Rivers State.
This was coming on the heels of a 3-day fact-finding tour to ascertain why the port is not performing at maximum capacity.
“Part of the reason why I’m here is to look into why the Rivers Ports are not working. Whatever the challenges are, we will address them. I will discuss with stakeholders and we will come up with the short-term, medium-term and long-term plans on how to overcome those challenges and make the ports productive,” Sambo said.
On the issue of the dilapidated access road to the port, the Minister assured that Sukuk IV will take care of that, adding that he would liaise with his counterpart at the Works Ministry, Mr. Babatunde Fashola to see how it can be fast-tracked.
The Minister, however, frowned on Terminal Operators who defraud the Federal Government by not complying with payment of the Practitioners Operating Fees, warning that it will no longer be tolerated.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello- Koko said the government is very serious about the need to increase traffic at the Eastern Ports, so as to decongest the Lagos ports.
On the issue of security, he said “We are working with the Nigerian Navy to improve security on our waterways and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has deployed assets under the Deep Blue Project that would be working with the Nigerian Navy to improve security along the waterways.
At the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) Nigeria, the Managing Director, Naved Zafa, while briefing the minister on their facility, said “As part of our terminal upgrade and expansion project, we have acquired sufficient cargo handling equipment at our terminal to improve the efficiency of the port.”
He disclosed that the Nigeria Customs Service has just installed a new scanning machine at the port complex, which was acquired by the Federal Government and inaugurated by the Comptroller General of Customs, Col. Hammed Ali (rtd).
According to him, the scanner would facilitate trade, ensure security and drastically reduce the importation of illicit goods by unscrupulous persons, adding that it would reduce time by promoting the faster and easier treatment of cargoes.
Other facilities visited were the Integrated Logistics Services Terminal, International Container Terminal, Onne Multipurpose Terminal and Brawal.
The Minister was accompanied on the trip by the Director, Finance and Accounts, FMT, Umaru Hassan who represented the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Director, MSD, FMT, Babatunde Sule, Director Legal Services, Pius Oteh, Director Rail, Jimoh Yusuf, Director Press, Eric Ojiekwe, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, Managing Director, and Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidel Okhiria among others.