Anambra State Shippers’ Association has appealed to the Federal Government to do whatever it takes to make the Onitsha riverport functional.
President of the association, Emma Akpaka, who spoke in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria on Saturday, said the port if put to use, would boost the economy of the country due to its proximity to the Onitsha main market.
You will recall that the Onitsha riverport was inaugurated by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, after its reconstruction.
Akpaka said that “to abandon it for over six years after it completion and inauguration is invitation to self-inflicted hardship’’.
According to him, the people’s expectations for takeoff of economic activities in the port have been `deferred’ for too long.
“Shippers in the South-East are begging President Muhammadu Buhari to gazette this port into the global shipping map, so that customs and relevant agencies will immediately enforce economic activities.
“Apart from revenues and jobs creation, there would be massive development of inland waterways of host communities as well.
“Recently, Kaduna Dry Port was commissioned by President Mohammadu Buhari.
“As we speak, the port in Kaduna is operational. Let the same feat be duplicated in Onitsha riverport instead of using different strokes for different folks.
“Again, let the benchmark in Nigerian ports be the same across board, instead of promoting price differentials by government agencies who use it as a ploy to frustrate shipment of containers to eastern ports,’’ he said.
“If Royal Niger Company (now UAC) used this port before and after Nigeria’s independence for its imports and exports, why can’t we do same in this millennium, when technology has greatly influenced the ease of doing business?
“Please, let us manage Onitsha riverport now as if Nigeria has no oil at all,’’ he said.