The Federal Government has expressed its determination to reposition the Onne Port to maximise its high potential in export and import trades.
The Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo disclosed this at Onne, Rivers State, as part of a three-day, fact-finding tour to ascertain why the port is not performing at maximum capacity.
In a statement signed by the director of press and public relations, Mr. Eric Ojiekwe, Sambo disclosed that: “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 short, medium and long-term plans on how to overcome those challenges and make the ports productive”.
On the issue of the dilapidated access road to the Onne Port, the minister assured that ‘Sukuk IV’ will take care of that, adding that he would liaise with his counterpart, the Minister of Works and Housing Babatunde Raji Fashola to see how it can be fast-tracked.
The minister, however, frowned on terminal operators who defraud the government by not complying with payment of the practitioners operating fees. He warned that it will no longer be tolerated.
Also speaking at the occasion, the managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello- Koko restated the government’s serious stance on increasing traffic at the eastern ports, to decongest the Lagos ports.
“We are working with the Nigeria Navy to improve security on our waterways and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has deployed assets via the Deep Blue Project that would be working with the navy to improve security in areas used for offshore patrols.”
While briefing the minister on their facility at the West Africa Container Terminal (WACT) Nigeria, the managing director, Naved Zafa 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”.
Speaking further, he informed 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 Controller General of Customs, Col. Hameed Ali (Rtd.).
According to him, the scanner would facilitate trade, ensure security and reduce drastically the importation of illicit goods by unscrupulous persons, adding that it would reduce ‘dwell’ time by promoting the faster and easier treatment of cargoes.
Other facilities visited were Integrated Logistics Services Terminal, International Container Terminal, Onne Multipurpose Terminal and Brawal.
The minister was accompanied 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 Yusufu; Director, press, Eric Ojiekwe; Managing director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko; Managing director, Nigerian Railway Corporation (NRC), Fidet Okhiria among others.