From Isaac Anumihe, Abuja and Jeff Amechi Agbodo, Onitsha
The South-East Shippers Association has protested the constant suspension of activities at Onitsha River Port in Anambra State.
The group said that Onitsha port is a natural deposit which Nigeria should focus on the revenue it generates rather than politics of ethnicity.
The President of Anambra State Shippers Association, Mr. Emma Akpaka, in a protest letter described the suspension of activities at the port as politically motivated against the Southeast zone.
The group lamented the dilapidated Niger road that connects the River port to the Main Market that has become a death trap for the users. “We see it as political sabotage against us. We don’t want what happened to Warri port to happen in Onitsha port. Warri Wharf was labeled a gateway for arms and ammunition. Those who should protest were silent because they did not know it was conspiracy, until those who were illegally disengaged moved to the creeks to forment trouble.
When Onitsha River port became operational in 2017, we celebrated and expected that going forward, Onitsha will be in the same page with Jakarta in Indonesia, Guangzhou in China, Bangkok in Thailand among others.
Indeed that expectation was right, but there is no enabling environment to augment the contributions of the Federal Ministry of Transport.
Niger Street, the only road that links the wharf to Onitsha main market has collapsed. Our expectation since 2017 is that this road would be rehabilitated with speed. But the road is so bad that any heavy-duty truck that tries to pass through it must fall.
“Therefore, Anambra State shipper are calling on the state government to come to our aid immediately by giving this road a facelift. this under the guise of internally generated revenue. This action has frustrated many of our customers.
“We equally advice governor Willie Obiano to facilitate the building of a jetty at the bank of the River Niger. Meanwhile as part of efforts to decongest the ports and end the intractable gridlock along Apapa- Oshodi Expressway, the Federal Government, has ordered relevant authorities to ensure that all rail lines terminate at the ports.
Speaking during a press briefing to kickstart the 27th Nigerian Economic Summit (#27NES) in Abuja, the Minister of State for Finance Budget and National Planning, Prince Clem Ikanade Agba, said the focus of government was on the rail and by the time that is realised there will be less pressure on the roads.