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Poor use of Eastern ports, Ontisha River port killing Lagos Ports—AMJON

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The leadership of Association of Maritime Journalists of Nigeria (AMJON), has presented a position paper on the how to revive the moribund Eastern ports and Onitsha River Port so as to reduce the stretching of capacities of Lagos ports.

In its argument at the Public Hearing conducted by the Federal House of Representatives in Abuja on Thursday, August 15, 2019, AMJON averred that “Despite the 2006 port concession programme that gave Nigerian ports to private operators, efforts by the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) to engender enhanced port activities in the eastern zone port operation have either remained underutilized or completely in doldrums.

“Sequel to the near inactivity in the NPAs operations, otherwise known as Eastern Ports, 14 years after the concession programme,  the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports have been experiencing traffic congestion due to increasing cargo throughput occasioned by the 2006 port reform carried out by the Federal Government.

Bearing in mind that “The reform among other things was aimed at making Nigerian seaports more efficient, effective and to attract more cargoes, we in AMJON, believe that the inactivity or low activity in the Eastern ports has to a large extent become a disincentive to the gains the country is supposed to reap from the port concession programme, which no doubt has brought some level of efficiency in the industry, growing the country’s cargo inflow to all time peak of 84.9 million metric tones in 2014. We had our lowest cargo throughput of 35.9 million metric tones in 2018.

AMJON made it clear that the negative impacts of either the inactivity and or underutilization of the five seaports and the Onitsha River Port that make up the Eastern Port is the reason why there is OVER UTILISATION of the Lagos seaports (Apapa and Tin Can Island ports).

Some of the hard-biting challenges of none use of eastern ports include endless cargo congestion at Apapa and Tin Can Island ports; high cost of doing business in Nigerian seaports/inefficiency; the intractable Apapa gridlock that has defied all solutions/worse logistics crisis in history; Loss of cargo traffic to the ports of Nigeria’s next door neighbours (Benin Republic, Togo and Cameroon); and Wasting of critical national investment that would boost economy and create mass employment.

However, in its recommendations, AMJON called on Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to take a holistic review of the 2006 ports concession agreements so as to terminate the contracts of those private operators who have not lived up to expectations.

The group also want the immediate implementation of the 25years ports development master plan established few years ago so as to fully utilize the various ports across the Country.

Other recommendations include fresh dredging of the Calabar port so as to maintain the draft channel of the port; The Onne Port access roads should be immediately be rehabilitated; The National Assembly should carry out oversight functions to the eastern ports so as to determine their challenges and finding solutions to them.

Another major recommendation is the need to 9.While the Federal Government needs to operationalize the Onitsha River Port by ensuring that the port is designated as a port of destination, carry out a fresh capital dredging and put in place a maintenance dredging arrangement and then concession (in fact concession should come last).

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