The Federal Government has called on Maritime stakeholders to patronize the Eastern Ports as a way of unburdening Lagos ports and assisting importers to have other alternative and competitive ports.

The Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, who was represented by the Minister of State for Transportation, Sen. Gbemisola Ruqayyah Saraki, made this call today in a Keynote address at Stakeholders Sensitization Workshop on the “Framework to Stimulate Activities and Encourage Patronage of the Eastern Ports me” in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.

“It is remarkable to note that this workshop is timely conceived considering the fact that Lagos Ports are overburdened in terms of receiving and handling of inbound and outbound cargo thereby causing gridlock with its attendant consequences of delay in clearance process, loss of man-hours, revenue and even corruption,” he said.

According to the Minister, the realization of the importance of the Eastern Ports led the Federal Government to set up a Committee in 2014 towards the revitalization of these ports, the recommendation of which the Nigerian Ports Authority is implementing under short, medium and long time basis.

Continuing, the Minister said: ” It is interesting to note that the Federal Government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari has taken steps towards improving the patronage of the Eastern Ports by putting issues of policies, security, infrastructure, etc in the front burner.”

Still on the issue of security, Amaechi said the launch of the Deep Blue Project by the President was the Federal Government’s effort to deal with insecurity occasioned by piracy, robbery, kidnapping and other Maritime crimes.

He further noted that since trade facilitation was “dependent on efficient transportation of cargo from Port locations into the various destination of use no matter how far flung into the hinterland they may be, we are therefore committed to the deployment of a multi-modal system of transportation from all our ports”.

Also, the Minister talked about implementing the Single Window System which is geared towards automating port activities as well as the Port Community System (PCS), “an aspect of Single Window which is being driven by Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) in collaboration with other relevant Agencies with technical guidance from International Maritime Organization (IMO).” He explains: “The Port Community System exclusively focuses on the speed reliability of logistics from the arrival of a vessel at the Port to the delivery of the goods to their owners.”

Speaking earlier, the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani who was represented by the Director, Procurement, Dr. Husseini Adamu, said: “I have no doubt that this constructive engagement will be robust enough to support the quest to revive the Eastern Ports. persuade international/local shipping communities to patronize the ports and reduce over reliance on the Western Ports in the country”.

Also speaking, the Acting Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, Mohammed Bello-Koko pointed out that it was more economically viable for importers in the South- South and South-East to get their goods via Eastern Ports instead of the rigours of using Western ports which is twice further away.

In his contribution, a former Minister of Interior, Capt. Emmanuel Iheancho who moderated the Technical Session, observed that if the ports must play the role it is intended for, all tiers of government must have a buy-in in making it work.

In her presentation, the Lead Consultant on “Enhancement of Eastern Ports Operations in Nigeria: Interim Report”, Dabney Shall-Holma noted that “there should be greater investment in Port infrastructure in order to enhance the operational capacities of the ports and quality service delivery thereby attracting increased revenue to government”.

Vintilating ideas, speaker after speaker noted that the reason the Eastern Ports were abandoned was because of issues of insecurity, poor access roads, funding and lack of maritime infrastructure.

Eric Orjiekwe
D, Press & PR
February 11, 2022