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Followers of the injustice officially trailing the fate of Onitsha Port on concessioning in South East have queried the reasons behind the abandonment of the river port which had been ready for more than three years to handover newly refurbished Warri Port Terminal 2 to the concessionaire in record time.
The Bureau of Public Enterprises (BPE), earlier in the week handed over Terminal B of the Warri Old Port to the private concessionaire, Ocean & Cargo Terminal Services (OCST) Limited barely few months after the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) declared the renovation and channelization works completed.
The anger and feeling of marginalization across the South East import and export community is anchored on the fact upon all the pleadings made by them to Vice President when he visited Awka last year and his assurance that the Onitsha Port will be concessioned and become operational before the end of 2019.
Only during the commissioning of newly completed N6bn Baro Port in Kogi, the Managing Director of National Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA), Senator Olu Mamora hinted that finishing touches are being given to the final lap of concessioning Onitsha Port, but without any timeline.
In a statement issued in Abuja by Head, Public Communications at BPE, Amina Othman, the agency quoted its Director General, Mr Alex Okoh, that President Muhammadu Buhari’s administration was committed to a private sector driven economy.
Okoh averred that “The objective of the government in port concession is to increase efficiency in our ports, improve service delivery, upgrade and modernise facilities in the ports, reduce the cost of shipping and clearing of goods at the ports and relieve the government of the burden of financing the sector.”
Details of the concession agreement showed that it will run for a period of 25 years at an annual lease fee of $1,621,500, in addition to the entry fee and monthly throughput fee chargeable on the volume of cargo handled.
BPE further assured that the implementation of the approved development plan for the concessionaire would be closely monitored by the relevant government agencies including the NPA, BPE and Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission to ensure compliance and steady operations.
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