Board Chairman of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Chief Akin Ricketts has advocated for creation of Channel Management Companies in order to revive the eastern ports and make them viable.
Ricketts also said here is nothing like high cost of doing business at Nigerian ports, adding that the federal government has put policies in place to reduce the cost of doing business.
The NPA board chairman lamented that the Eastern ports are not being well utilised by importers.
While highlighting the challenges of the eastern ports, he called for the creation of channel management companies for some of the eastern ports, saying that many of them need to be revamped and their channels dredged.
“In Cross River State, for instance, the draft of the Calabar port can barely take a modern-day ship. The Calabar channel has not been dredged for a while now and vessels these days need drafts above 10 metres and you cannot find that around that corridor”
“I think the port needs to be revamped and the channels dredged. The same goes for the Warri port as well. Some of these ports will need to have channel management companies to properly manage the channels” Ricketts told Premium Times
The NPA Chair while reacting to high cost of doing business at the ports said “From my perspective, I do not think that the cost of doing business at the ports is relatively high and I know that the Federal Government policies that tend to reduce the cost of doing business across board”
He said that maximising eastern ports is not an attempt to cripple the economy of Lagos State as being misconstrued by some people, but to ensure that the economy is improved.
“The inaugural speech you referred to was misconstrued by some persons. They probably thought it was to reduce the Lagos economy, but that is not what it means. It is about improving the economy of Lagos, which is the commercial hub of Nigeria.
“Recall that the Honourable Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, and Babajide Sanwo-Olu, the governor of Lagos State, as well as the Managing Director of NPA, Hadiza Bala-Usman, went on a tour after which it was decided that there will be a stop to the barging activities in the ports because it was detrimental to the internal roads which are not meant to be traversed by heavily laden vehicles”
“It was on that basis that I said some of these vessels should be encouraged to berth in the eastern ports and apart from boosting the economies of those areas, it will reduce the pressure on our roads. It will also give those in the eastern corridors a sense of belonging”
“The blue economy (marine economy) is so vast that nothing can affect the economy of Lagos and if the eastern corridors are utilised, it will allow Lagos to breathe, plan well and deliver the necessary infrastructure that are built to standards for better service delivery”
Ricketts called for closer ties amongst the agencies in the maritime sector including Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and others.
He said that the maritime sector can easily eclipse the Nigerian economic mainstay and become the number one foreign exchange earner outside crude oil. According to him, the sector has the potential to employ millions of citizens, thereby improving their living standards.
“It is my firm opinion that those in charge of the day-to-day running of the agencies in the maritime sector should close ranks. They have been closing ranks, but it will pay us better if they forge better ties because it will be of great benefit to the nation’s economy” he said