New NIWA’s MD comment on state of Onitsha Port conflicting—stakeholders’
…As inaugurated Baro Port remains under the shackles of bad access road
Fresh confusion has emerged from the address presented by the new Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora during the recent inauguration of Baro Port in Niger State.
Mamora, who assumed office as NIWA helmsman in October 2018, said the Onitsha River Port has already been rehabilitated, while the Oguta and Lokoja ports are in the final stages of completion.
He earlier confirmed that the concession arrangements for the ports have been completed, and the concessionaires would soon start operation.
However, whereas he said “NIWA opened the financial bids for the Onitsha port concession on July 3, 2018, and has picked the most competent concessionaire. Any moment from now, the concessionaire will take over Onitsha port, and activity will commence in earnest,” it means that the new owners are yet to assume control and management of the facility which clearly negates the position of former Acting Managing Director of NIWA last year.
Business Hilights recalls that the former Acting Managing Director of NIWA, Danladi Ibrahim, had disclosed in July last year that the Onitsha river port in Anambra State has been concessioned to two companies and that the port may commence operations before the end of 2018.
Though Ibrahim had declined to disclose the names of the concessionaire for Onitsha River Port project because the award letters are yet to be issued to the operators of the facility, the NIWA boss noted that the concession agreement will last for a period of 25 years.
However checks at the Port earlier this week showed stagnation and lifelessness.
Industry analysts in the commercial city of Onitsha told Business Hilights South East Bureau chief that the over seven years delay in concessioning the port remained the most undoing of South East business community by the current administration as importers in the zone are forced to use Lagos ports upon their consignments suffer losses enroute to Onitsha on a daily basis.
Key questions being asked by South East business community include why is it taking more than seven months to issue award letters to the concessionaires to resume business at the Port; Why did the former Acting MD of NIWA make reference to two concessionaires while the current MD made a comment that suggest only one concessionaire?
Another question remains the fact that wont the entire stretch of River Niger from Baro to Warri be re-dredged before navigable vessels can have comfortable navigation considering the fact that the river is naturally full of rapids with high undercurrent flow which defines rough and dangerous navigation?
Whereas Onitsha port stakeholders wait endlessly for the answers from government quarters, fresh investigations have revealed that port activities may not start any moment from now as the Baro access road remains in worst state.
The access road leading to the Baro River Port from the Gegu Expressway in Kogi State is not motorable.
Though the management of the NIWA exploited its local engineers to put up palliative measures that aided the completion of the project and brief access for the presidential inauguration, the palliative measures cannot stand the test of time hence there is urgent need for budgetary allocation on the total reconstruction of the road.
Maritime operators who spoke with Business Hilights said even though the port has been inaugurated, there is an urgent need to also rehabilitate the access road, if the project is to be of any economic value to the nation.
Experts further expressed worry on why the Baro port was reconstructed without any plan for access road in the first instance.