…Stop Using Insecurity As an Excuse, Stakeholders Charge Shipping Companies
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Stakeholders operating at the eastern ports in Nigeria have said that commercial activities at Port Harcourt and Onne Ports have started booming again, so much so, that terminal operators no longer have space to hold imported containers.
This is even as the stakeholders have argued that insecurity and piracy in the eastern ports is deliberately being overrated, saying that shipping companies and the Federal Government should stop using insecurity as an excuse not to develop the ports.
Speaking with DAILY TREND NEWS, a licensed customs agent and Board Chairman of Association of Nigerian Licensed Customs Agents (ANLCA) Alhaji Taiwo Mustapha noted that Port Harcourt and Onne Port is booming with activity again, courtesy of West African Container Terminal (WACT)
He said vessels are now getting delayed again before being discharged at Port Harcourt Port.
He argued that “Despite reported cases of piracy and insecurity,
I can say Port Harcourt and Onne Port has picked up seriously in terms of commercial activity”
“WACT that is the container terminal does not even have space again inside their terminal to accommodate containers, vessels are getting delayed again before getting discharged in Port Harcourt”
As for Calabar port, the ANCLA BOT Chairman advised that the channels should be dredged and the roads should be fixed in order to encourage traders make use of Calabar ports.
“If the road to Calabar, Aba and Onitsha are good, it would encourage the Aba traders to start using the Calabar port if the channels are good. So, the challenges confronting Calabar port are two; the need to dredge the channel and fix the roads”
“So, the issue of insecurity is there but it is getting down gradually” he said
According to him, the oil companies and the Nigerian politicians contributed to the insecurity at the eastern ports.
He argued that the youths were being used to play thugry during elections, and at the end of the day, the politicians could not empower them.
“At the end of the day, these boys were already used to being given money, so they had to start looking for alternatives, that is why the piracy started”
Also speaking with our correspondent on the viability of the eastern ports, President of Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Branch of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Ifeanyin Mazeli sent a passionate appeal to NPA management and the Federal Government to diversify and re-channel cargoes to the eastern ports, saying that there is so much traffic in Lagos.
Comrade Mazeli said the shipping companies and the Federal Government should stop using insecurity as an excuse not to develop the eastern ports and stem vessels to the ports.
“We should stop giving flimsy excuses of insecurity, there is no country that we do not have insecurity, even in American states like Califonia and Arizona, Lagos itself is not safe, Kaduna State and its dry port is not safe either, where is safe?
“When their is no job for the youths to do, the crime rate would be high, if you start moving vessels to the Eastern Ports, job opportunities will come and these guys would drop their arms. Nobody should use insecurity as an excuse”
“When the ports are booming, jobs would be created for dockworkers, NPA would also need more strength to oversee activities at the terminals, more companies would be set up and employment would be generated”
“Enabling environment should be provided for the investors to do their business” Mazeli stated
According to the unionist, NPA should issue a directive that containerised cargoes should be sent to Warri Port while Bulk Cargoes should be sent to Port Harcourt port, the owners can now take up their cargoes to destination.
He said it is foolhardy to send a cargo to Lagos and start moving it by truck to Port Harcourt, when importers can actually send the cargo directly to Port Harcourt port.
“It is expensive to import cargoes through Lagos and taking it by road to Port Harcourt and Aba, we are hiding under the umbrella of militancy, the government should create an enabling environment” he said