The Hon. Minister of Transportation, Mu’Azu Jaji Sambo, has expressed the Federal Government’s determination to reposition the Onne Port to maximize its high potentials in export and import trade. Sambo disclosed this on Thursday while in Onne, Rivers State, as part of a 3-day fact-finding tour to ascertain reasons the port is yet performing at maximum capacity.
He said: “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 term, medium term 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 gave assurances that Sukuk IV would take care of that, while he would liaise with the Federal Minister in charge of Works and Housing, Babatunde Raji Fashola, to see how the plans would 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 would no longer be tolerated.
Also speaking at the occasion, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello- Koko, said 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 water ways
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.”
Speaking further, he reiterated 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. Hameed 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 dwell time by promoting 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 on the trip by the Director, Finance and Accounts, FMoT, Umaru Hassan, who represented the Permanent Secretary, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, Director, MSD, FMoT, Babatunde Sule, Director Legal Services, Pius Oteh, Director Rail, Jimoh Yusfu, Director Press, Eric Ojiekwe, Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mohammed Bello Koko, Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, Fidet Okhiria among others.