The Federal Government’s efforts to diversify not only the economy, but also our reckless sole dependence on the ports of Lagos are steadily advancing, as the Inland Port of Onitsha has finally come into operation.
This is a commendable sequel to the full start of Maerskline operations at the port of Onne this year after leaving the ports of Lagos.
With the commissioning of the port by the Director General of the Inland Waterways Authority of Nigeria, NIWA, George Moghalu, Maerskline containers can make the month-long journey to Onne, arrive at the Clarion Terminal at the Port of Onitsha in 24 hours and let it dry. ports or directly by the owners.
It has been a long and winding journey up to this triumphant moment for this port on the Niger River. It was originally built by the Shehu Shagari regime almost 40 years ago.
Shortly before the 2015 general election, the Goodluck Jonathan government upgraded and commissioned it. But it could not be used because the logistics of the waterway were not ready.
Following the approval of the Nigerian Port Authority for Maerskline to relocate to the East, and the government’s determination to fully activate commercial operations at the ports of Onitsha and Baro, trade is now possible in Niger. It was a long time coming, but at least it’s here now.
We hope that the nation is really serious about transporting goods through Niger from seaports. It will go a long way towards relieving the city of Lagos and Nigerian business operators from the headaches caused by traffic congestion, high delay rates, losses from traffic accidents and extortion by law enforcement agencies. along the Lagos-Benin-Onitsha highways.
It will also restore the balance of the population that had weighed heavily in Lagos and in our other cities.
It will provide new development and employment opportunities and allow the Niger River to serve commercial and industrial activities in northern areas that until now relied solely on the ports of Lagos. It is a win-win situation.
We commend the Buhari administration for bringing the good works of the previous regime to their logical conclusions where they are available for the use of the general Nigerians. In fact, this confirms the ruling that government is a continuum and only unpatriotic regimes will drop the baton.
For our river ports to adequately serve the economy and operate 24 hours a day, arrangements must be made to protect the waterways from piracy and the activities of maritime thugs disguised as “militant” agitators.
Care must also be taken to protect them from rogue extortionists within our security agencies. The Niger river channel must be dredged and cleaned periodically so that the barges can operate undisturbed.
Unless these measures are taken, the waterway and ports could be abandoned again.