Posted by Yusuf Babalola | 19 August 2019 | 800 times
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has attributed litigation as reason why the Onitsha river port has remained non-functional seven years after completion.
The Onitsha river port, the largest in West Africa subregion, which was built by ex-President Shehu Shagari, and rehabilitated by President Goodluck Jonathan, at the cost of N4.6 billion in 2012 has been completed but awaits concessioning for over seven years.
However, the equipment in Onitsha port are fast deteriorating as it has never been put to use after it was rehabilitated and commissioned by the previous administration.
But, speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, managing director of NIWA, Senator Olorunibe Mamora, said some bidders went to court to challenge the concessioning process.
According to him, Onitsha port is receiving attention from the Authority but there was the need to dispense with the litigation surrounding the concessioning process before it could take off.
He said, “Somewhere along the line, some people went to court challenging the process of concessioning and one thing we don’t want to happen is having litigation issue on that kind of process.”
He said one drawback of the litigation was interested parties would shy away from participating if they realised there were litigation issue. “So, we have to ensure that that is resolved before proceeding,” he added.
Mamora, who has also been nominated a minister in the yet to be constituted cabinet of President Muhammadu Buhari, said NIWA has engaged the Federal Ministry of Transportation on support programme to encourage the use of the river port.
“We are also engaging the FMOT, they put in place a kind of support programme to encourage the use of that port. There is a programme to market the port to investors, traders in the eastern part of the country.
“Don’t forget it is a very huge port and the largest in West Africa. So, it won’t serve the country alone, but also the entire West African coast because it will be the hub and good enough for maritime activities and of course, it is billed to be port of final destination and not just to handle goods within the country but handle shipment from outside the country,” he added.
Meanwhile, speaking to LEADERSHIP, chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPPC), Otunba Kunle Folarin, has called on the federal government to revisit all the river ports on the Niger and Benue and elsewhere, and make a deliberate policy to turn them around for the benefit of the government and its citizens.
He explained that with her massive coastal stretch and the benefit of harnessing its maritime potential, Nigeria could attain intermodal system of transport easier than it can imagine.
“Governments, from time to time, are shying away from building intermodal system of transportation and this is not good at all.
“We are a maritime nation and what this means is that we can do so much with our marine environment. People should be able to move from any part of the country using water transport, rail, air or land depending on their choice, which should be economically informed,” he said. (LEADERSHIP)
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