Magnus Eze, Enugu
Following the successful completion of a trial barge trip (carrying containers) from Onne Port to Onitsha Port on Tuesday, the Senate Chief Whip and the former Governor of Abia State, Senator Orji Uzor Kalu, has lauded the Federal Government for revamping Onitsha River Port.
According to Kalu, the resumed activities at Onitsha Seaport will boost economic activities in the South East and ultimately create employment opportunities and wealth for Nigerians.
Commending the efforts of the Federal Ministry of Transportation and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), the Chief Whip stressed that with the functioning of Onitsha Seaport, exporters and importers, would be relieved of the stress of transporting containers by road from different ports to the South East and vice versa.
His words: “With the commencement of activities at Onitsha Seaport, businesses will thrive further in the South East.
“The bottlenecks being faced by exporters and importers will be reduced as containers can now by transported from Onne Port and other ports through the waterways to Onitsha Seaport and vice versa.
“The activities in the seaport will drive industrilaisation and sustainable development in Onitsha and South East at large.
“The revamping of Onitsha River Port is another feat achieved by the Federal Government under President Muhammadu Buhari”
While urging the Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC) and Abia State government to fast track the completion and commissioning of Aba Inland Container Deport (ICD) at Avor Ntigba, Isiala Ngwa North LGA of Abia state, noted that the South East has untapped economic potentials.
Meanwhile, corroborating the Senator, the NIWA Managing Director, Dr George Moghalu, has said that the just-commissioned Onitsha River Port would boost economic activities in Anambra State in particular and the South East as a whole.
Moghalu who described the facility as the economic gateway of the region’s economy said that it would reduce unnecessary and avoidable expenses for transporting containers from Lagos ports and Port Harcourt port to the South-East.
He stated this at NIWA office in Onitsha during the commisioning of the long-awaited Onitsha Port.
He said: “It is obvious that my aim and commitment to bringing functions to Onitsha Port is no longer a mirage and elusive as many thought. My good intentions, as an Anambra-born MD of NIWA, are to make the port operational in order to boost economic activities in Anambra State and South East, create jobs and wealth, improve ease of doing business, give South East sense of belonging, reduce bottlesnecks in clearing goods and save monies wasted in transporting containers from different ports to the Southeast. These have been achieved and it is recorded in history today that containers are arriving in batches to this port after 42 years”.
He declared that making Nigeria’s waterways navigable was key to reducing the pressure on the roads as most of the containers can be moved to their destinations safely by water.
“If our waterways are navigable and open, we can go by water, not by road. It is this aspect that drew my attention to the fact that the pressure we have on our roads today can very well be avoided. For example, if 1,000 containers are coming from Apapa port and if half or even 70 per cent is going to end in the Southeast- Onitsha, Aba, or what have you — what that means is that 500 or 700 trailers will be on the road.”