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Onitsha river port

Continued delay in concessioning Onitsha Port, a disservice to Ndigbo—traders

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A top businessman and one of the major importers doing business at Onitsha Head bridge market, Chief Nduka Obiorah has called on the Federal Ministry of Transportation to mount pressure on the Bureau of Public Enterprise (BPE) to do the needful in finding a concessionaire for the completed Onitsha River Port, complex.

In an interview, he told Business Hilights in Onitsha that “The reasons given by the government in delaying the concessioning of the complex is no more acceptable and it has reached a level we will begin to see the situation as expression of hatred on the prospective users which are Igbos”.

“Can anybody explain to me why a scheme that took the federal government under the President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration about N4bn to upgrade will take up to four years to get a manager?

“As am talking to you today, I bet you some of the fittings may have started having problems which means that before a core investor can be found, another round of rehabilitation will be made by the government.

“I was among the stakeholders’ that was here when the complex was commissioned by President Jonathan and I recall that he promised that a concessionaire will be announced very soon. Up till now, getting to three years of this government the facility is still not on use due to unacceptable reason.

Business Hilights investigations on the root cause of the delay showed that the BPP had attempted to invite bids for the concession but was stuck midway simply because it suddenly introduced a strange bidding policy which it has never done before in any scheme in Nigeria.

The new policy is the sourcing of a consultant to the consulting firm that will handle the concessioning; a development that suggests official decision either to kill the project or delay the concession after all.

This may be the main reason why several Igbo traders who were contacted on the matter alleged official hatred so that the target users will continue to patronize Lagos or Port Harcourt ports in either importation or exports.

According to another trader who pleaded anonymity at Onitsha main market, “We spend a lot traversing between Onitsha and Lagos or Port Harcourt monitoring the arrival and clearing of our imports whereas this it’s something we can do here because the facility had been put in place by the government.

However, there are indications that the federal government will soon revisit the Onitsha River Port crisis based on the assurance given by the Vice president, Prof Yemi Osinbajo when he recently paid a working visit to some manufacturing concerns in Anambra State and Nnewi in particular.

The traders clearly presented the matter and he assured that government will resolve the concession matter and make the port effective soon.

It would be recalled that the federal government under the former administration had completed the dredging of the river from Warri to Baro in Niger State in readiness for waterway transportation and development of inland river ports.


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