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Litigation Stalls Takeoff Of N4.6bn Onitsha Port

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The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has attributed litigation as reason why the Onitsha river port has remained non-functional many years after completion.

Recall that the Onitsha river port which was built by ex-President Shehu Shagari and rehabilitated by President Goodluck Jonathan at N4.6billon in 2012 has been completed but await concessioning for over six years.

However, the equipment in Onitsha port are fast deteriorating because it has never been put to use seven years after it was rehabilitated and commissioned by the administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan.

But, speaking exclusively to LEADERSHIP, the 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 their is need to dispense with the litigation surrounding the concessioning process before it could take off.

He said, “Onitsha port is receiving attention and somewhere along the line, some people went to court challenging the process of the concessioning and one thing we don’t want to happen is having litigation issue on that kind of process and offcourse the interested parties in that type of thing is that they will shy away from participating if they realise there are litigation issue. So, we have to ensure that that is resolved before proceeding.”

Mamora who has also being appointed 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 encouraged 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.”

“Dont forget it’s a very huge port and the largest in west Africa so, it won’t sever the country alone but also the entire west African coast because it will be the hub and good enough for maritime activities and offcourse 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.”

However, speaking to LEADERSHIP, Otunba Kunle Folarin, a frontline maritime stakeholder and chairman of Nigerian Ports Consultative Council (NPPC), 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.

 

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