Nigerian Shippers Support Amaechi’s Statement on Lack of Viability of River Ports

…Says Call for His Sack Unfair

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The Shippers Association Lagos State (SALS) has backed the Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi over his recent comments degrading and demarketing the four river ports in Nigeria as waste of government resources.

SALS commended Amaechi for not holding back the truth on the status of the river ports by saying that the River Niger has to be dredged, while government’s funds would be wasted again as usual

Amaechi recently appeared on a national television; Nigerian Television Authourity (NTA), saying that the nation’s four river ports, located in Anambra, Imo, Kogi and Niger states are waste of funds because of shallow draft among others.

However, in a statement sent to DAILY TREND NEWS on Wednesday, President of SALS, Rev Jonathan Nicol supported Amaechi’s position saying that the only competent authority to talk about Nigerian Ports is the Federal Minister of Transportation, who is overseeing the Nigerian Ports Authority and NIWA.

Rev Nicole argued that He is still the Minister of Transportation, and that he has current information on the status of any Nigerian Ports anywhere in the country.

“He has made a categorical statement on the status of some River Ports that cannot handle effective cargo movements in Nigeria, including Onitsha Ports, because of the droughts of the River Niger which is not deep enough for such operations”

“The River Niger has a natural phenomenon of self reclamation of sharp sand even after dredging it. Those in the Niger Delta from Patani to Onitsha can testify to the fact that it is only when there is high tide during the raining season that barges can be utilised to some proportions of moving containers to Onitsha and other cities having river ports”

“During the dry season, it becomes very impossible. So the comments made at the time of commissioning the river ports were political”

“The call for the Minister of Transportation to resign because of unworkable investment of Government which is verifiable is misplaced. And we do not agree with it”

“The Minister is a cabinet member of the Nigerian Government that reports directly to the Federal Executive Council. He has revealed that the River Ports are not viable for now. They maybe, tomorrow, after dredging the River Niger”

Rev Nicol recalled that a foreign shipping line, Maersk Line has made it clear that they are not issuing Bills of Lading to Onitsha Port or any other River Ports under NIWA because of the drought.

The Maritime Industry Advocacy Initiative (MAIN) had called for Amaechi’s resignation, even as it has urged the National Assembly to probe the minister for demarketing the four river ports.

In a press statement issued on Monday and signed by the Executive Director of MAIN, Mr Sesan Onileimo, the group expressed shock at watching a Minister of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, going on the Nigerian Television Authourity (NTA) to disparage the river ports, describing them as a waste of resources.

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