About six years after the Goodluck Jonathan administration completed the Onitsha River Port for a whooping N4.6 Billion, fresh indications has emerged that the Federal Ministry of Transportation is still shopping for a concessionaire to operate the port.
While speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS at the sidelines of an industry event in Lagos recently, Permanent Secretary of the ministry, Mr. Saliu Zakari said the procurement process for a concessionaire for the port is still ongoing.
Even though former Acting Managing Director of Nigerian Inland Water Authority (NIWA) Mr. Danladi Ibrahim had earlier informed maritime stakeholders recently at an event that concessioning of the port located in Anambra State would be completed by end of October, the Permanent Secretary said the processes are yet to be completed.
Speaking on the delay, he said “Onitsha River Port is to be concessioned, but currently we are on the procurement process of getting a concessionaire to emerge, a winner that would emerge finally. The processes is still not yet completed”
“It is after these processes are completed that work would start”
Also speaking on delayed operations at the Baro Port in Niger State, he said the ministry is making efforts to link the port with rail system for effective operations.
“Definitely the Baro Port is going to be linked with rail, and the Baro Port will have access road for convenience to ensure that goods and cargoes are moved out of the port”
“It is only a matter of completing the processes that is ongoing and of which I have told you is a procurement process and whoever is going to do that work, any company that will get it would emerge through the normal bidding and open competitive bidding” he said
Our correspondent gathered that the government has sidelined Nigerian bids, including that of Inland Container Nigeria Limited (ICNL) operators of the Kaduna Dry Port, and the government is routing for a foreign firm from Belgium.
Onitsha Port holds huge economic implications to businesses located in the commercial Eastern cities of Onitsha, Nnewi and Aba, which would as a result of the concession, have the privilege to forgo the transportation of over N500,000 per container to take delivery of their consignments from Ports in Lagos.
NIWA had also announced arrangements to declare and gazette Onitsha River Port as Port of Origin for cargoes coming into the country from any part of the world and final destination to those going out of the country as export.
At the completion of the process, Onitsha River Port, will be recognised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as a port to which goods came be consigned from, and from where goods can also be consigned to, from any port located anywhere in the world.