Importers and exporters, plying their trade in Anambra State, have pleaded with President Muhammadu Buhari to make the Onitsha River Port commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, functional.
The shippers, under the aegis of Anambra State Shippers’ Association (ASSA), spoke through their President, Mr. Emma Akpaka, in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Saturday in Enugu, saying this could be achieved by gazetting the abandoned facility.
According to Akpaka, if the port was put to use it would boost the economy of the country.
Akpaka stressed that the port, if put to maximum use, could sustain the country’s economy, especially with its proximity to the Onitsha Main Market.
“Shippers in the South-East are begging President Muhammadu Buhari to gazette this port into the global shipping map, so that Customs and relevant agencies will immediately enforce economic activities.
“Apart from revenues and job creation, there would be massive development of inland waterways of host communities as well.
“Recently, Kaduna Dry Port was commissioned by President Mohammadu Buhari.
“As we speak, the port in Kaduna is operational. Let the same feat be duplicated in Onitsha River Port instead of using different strokes for different folks.
“Again, let the benchmark in Nigerian ports be the same across board, instead of promoting price differentials by government agencies who use it as a ploy to frustrate shipment of containers to eastern ports,’’ he said.
“If Royal Niger Company (now UAC) used this port before and after Nigeria’s independence for its imports and exports, why can’t we do same in this millennium, when technology has greatly influenced the ease of doing business?
“Please, let us manage Onitsha River Port now as if Nigeria has no oil at all”, he said.
Akpaka lamented that “to abandon it for over six years after its completion and inauguration is invitation to self-inflicted hardship”.
According to him, the people’s expectations for takeoff of economic activities in the port had been ‘deferred’ for too long.
Onitsha River Port was inaugurated by former President Goodluck Jonathan in 2012, after its reconstruction.