There have been mixed reactions following the Federal Government’s approval of the construction of two new sea ports in Bonny Island in Rivers State and Warri in Delta state, both in the south-south geo-political zone of Nigeria.
Rt. Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, the Minister of transportation, who made this disclosure recently in Lagos state, also noted that President Mohammadu Buhari also assured him that a railway line would be constructed from Port Harcourt, Rivers state, to Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
But Checks by our Correspondent had it that since the pronouncement, some stakeholders in the maritime industry have lashed out on the idea, saying that it would have been more honorable for the Federal Government to put the existing ports in Warri, Onne and Calabar to a maximum use instead of muting an idea for two new ones.
One of the stakeholders, a clearing Agent who wants to be simply identified as Iyke said: “Here in Rivers State for example, we don’t have much cargo, while Lagos is over-congested”.
Pointing to the road, he said: “look at the road leading to the ports; they are in deplorable condition, Sea pirates attacking vessels every day in the high sea.
“Shipping Companies are battling with obsolete equipment ranging from pilot cutters and other navigational aids including insecurity. They have not solved one problem, they are busy creating another”, he said.
“Government should try and fix the Eastern ports, make them viable and competitive like Lagos instead of venturing into another jamboree”.
Another stakeholder, John Mark who has been in the shipping business for the past ten years said: “in as much as it is good for the government to establish other sea ports and if possible dry ports, the important thing is for the Ports to work. Every day, one committee or the other will visit this port, what has their visit achieved?
“The other day, it was committee on why Eastern ports are not being properly utilised. The other day, House of Representatives committee on Ports and Harbors, last week, it was Senate committee on Customs, what actually are they coming to do? “, he asked. Has it changed anything?
It would be recalled that the minister had made this known while speaking on “Railway Infrastructure: Progress and Plan” at the 2020 national economic outlook in Lagos, recently when he said: “the new seaports will be in Bonny, Rivers, and in Warri, Delta state”, adding that President Buhari had also assured him that a railway would be constructed from Port Harcourt, Rivers state, to Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.
The minister went further to posit that the current administration was more business friendly, noting that several infrastructure would be completed before the end of the tenure.
“We will provide railway from Port Harcourt to Maiduguri, the President has assured me. We are discussing and announcement would be made on the project soon,” he said.