By JEFF AGBODO
The Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer (MD/CEO) of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, has said that with the Onitsha River Port in use, the economic fortunes of Anambra State and the South East will be strengthened.
He said the port will reduce unnecessary and avoidable expenses in transporting goods containers from Lagos ports and Port Harcourt port to the South-East.
Moghalu made the remarks while commissioning the Onitsha River Port at the weekend when the first vessel from Onne Port in Rivers State to Onitsha successfully arrived and berthed at the river port.
The NIWA CEO said he made every effort to make the port operational in order to boost economic activities in Anambra State and the South East, create jobs and wealth, and improve the ease of doing business in the region.
“It is obvious that my aim and commitment to bringing function to the Onitsha Port is no longer a mirage and elusive as many thought. My good intentions as an Anambra-born MD of NIWA are to make the port operational in order to boost economic activities in Anambra State and South East, create jobs and wealth, improve on the ease of doing business, give South East a sense of belonging, reduce bottlenecks in clearing goods and save monies wasted in transporting containers from different ports to the South East.
It has been achieved and it is recorded in history today that containers are arriving in batches to this port after 42 years”.
He declared that making Nigeria’s waterways navigable is key to reducing the pressure on our roads as most of the containers can be moved to their destinations safely by water.
“If our waterways are navigable and open, we can go by water, not just by road. It is this aspect that drew my attention to the fact that the pressure we have on our roads today can very well be avoided. For example, if 1,000 containers are coming from Apapa port and if half or even 70 percent go to the South East through the port into Onitsha, Aba, or other cities in the region, it means fewer trucks and container carriers will be on the road.”
“It has taken both economic and political sacrifices to make the Onitsha River Port functional in order to tap from its huge economic benefits to businesses located in the commercial cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Aba, and save the economy the burdened cost of transporting goods from Lagos to Eastern Nigeria.
This will not only save businesses as much money is put into cargo clearance per container, haulage cost of transporting cleared consignment from Lagos ports to the states in the East, but will also help to decongest the already stretched Lagos ports.
He identified infrastructure development as crucial economic initiative that can liberate Anambra State economically, stating that activities in the new port will create massive employment for the youths and also add meaningful value to the state’s economy.
“When it is developed and open, lots of ships will be navigating the Onitsha-Lokoja axis, some unemployed youths who may be engaged in negative activities like kidnapping will be engaged gainfully.
“The revamping of Onitsha river port is one outstanding project yearning for attention for many years now. The politics that started in 1980 has ended. This project is going to put the unemployed youths in Anambra State and South East in aloofness from crime as the job opportunities that are attached to this project are immeasurable” he said.