By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Anambra Shippers Association has raised doubts about the Onitsha River Ports, saying that stakeholders have not been making use of the port because they suspect it is a booby trap.
President of the association, Hon. Emma Akpaka in a recent chat with newsmen also lamented constant extortion of Shippers by the Anambra State Government with the use of thugs to generate revenue.
According to him, most importers at the south-east make use of Onne Port, he however lamented that cargoes are cleared at higher rates at the Eastern Ports compared to Lagos port. According to him, a cargo cleared at Lagos port for N1million is cleared at eastern port for N1.8million
“We use Onne Port mostly and Port Harcourt Area port, while some use the Onitsha River ports.
“Some of us also use Lagos ports, but because of the delay, we are gradually returning to Onitsha River Port, the reason why it is gradual is because some of our members want to know if it is a booby trap, so we are testing the waters” he said
Hon Akpaka lamented that N10,000 is being collected per twenty foot container by Anambra State Government thugs, while N20,000 is collected on forty foot container.
“Apart from individual efforts, we have complained to the Shippers Council but nothing has been don”
“On the harassment on containers by state government agents who are thugs, the moneys are receipted, they collect N10,000 per twenty foot container and N20,000 for the forty foot. The Shippers Council has gotten involved severally, we have gone to the Anambra state House to complain but the harassment is still ongoing”
“The same agents of state government harass our customers whenever they come to buy goods from us, they beat them and extort money from them. They said the state government has to generate revenue, the Shippers Council has been supportive but the challenges are still there”
“Some of our customers have stopped coming to buy goods from us because when we harass them, its like telling them not to come again, people come all the way from Ghana, Togo, Niger, Chad, Cotonou and so on to patronise Nigerian market”
“Foreign exchange fluctuations is also a major challenge that has put many of our Shippers out of business” he said
The Anambra Shippers Association was inaugurated in 2002. Currently it has 150 members.