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Maritime stakeholders seek diversion of cargoes from Lagos to southern ports

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The ongoing drive by the Federal Airports Authority of Nigeria (FAAN) to decongest air traffic from Murtala Mohammed International Airport (MMIA) Lagos to newly inaugurated world class facilities at Port Harcourt and Abuja airports, has captured the interest of shipping stakeholders’ to do same in the sector.
Speaking in a conference in Warri, leading importers and exporters say time has come for the decongestion of both Apapa and Tin-Can Island ports so that other ports in the southern region will survive.
In a communiqué issued at the end of their summit, the consortium of shippers, importers, clearing agents and other maritime business operators averred that “Decongesting Lagos ports will among other things, free Lagos roads from traffic nightmares traced to blockages of highways and ageing bridges by containers and other heavy duty long vehicles calling at the ports”.
“Every necessary infrastructure needed for efficient port operations are complete in all southern ports including Port Harcourt, Warri, Onne and even Calabar. So there is no reason to be concentrating everything in Lagos.
“From all indications, the only saving policy that can save Lagos from the intractable traffic crisis it has been facing in the last couple of years is to begin the diversion of cargo traffic down south to not only free Lagos, but to revive several dying businesses in the southern part of Nigeria.
“What the government through the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and other relevant agencies should do now is to follow good plan of FAAN and begin the implementation of the maritime traffic diversion to southern Nigerian ports.
Business Hilights gathered that the ongoing move by FAAN to work out the diversion of air traffic to Abuja and Port Harcourt is to put the new terminals to profitable use after sepending billions of scare resources to fix the new terminals and strategic infrastructures at the international airports.
Already, some foreign carriers have expressed readiness to divert some flight operations to new terminals at Port Harcourt International Airport (PHIA), Omegwa, Rivers State, and the Nnamdi Azikiwe International Airport (NAIA) ahead of the official drive by FAAN.
The federal agency further revealed that even the Turkish Airlines would soon commence scheduled flight operations from PHIA, while Emirates Airlines would run daily flights from NAIA. In addition, Air Peace would from April, do direct flight to Dubai from PHIA.
According the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Henrietta Yakubu, “The move has become necessary so as to redistribute traffic from Lagos to other airports in the country”. Yakubu said the carriers could use state-of-the-art facilities in other aerodromes across Nigeria, adding that FAAN is determined to improve the experience of air travellers nationwide.
She hinted that Cronos Air, and Lufthansa already operate from the Port Harcourt Airport, while Turkish Air flights will operate four times weekly, starting from June 25, 2019.
Also, FAAN is upbeat that Air Cote d’Ivoire would commence direct flight from Abuja to its base in Abidjan soon.“We want to appeal to members of the public that they don’t have to come from Port Harcourt or any part of the Eastern state to fly out of the country.
The image-maker also added that “They can easily go to Port Harcourt to fly. Also, as you know, Abuja Airport’s new terminal too has opened, and Emirates would be starting from the terminal from June. We are expecting all the international airlines to start operating also from Abuja Airport.
“We want to encourage our passengers that they don’t all have to come to Lagos, even though we know Lagos is the commercial nerve centre of the country and the airport is the hub, but passengers can travel from Abuja and Port Harcourt airports to connect to their destinations so that we can decongest Lagos airport.”

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