The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku
By Adebiyi Adedapo
The multi-billionaire naira Onitsha Cargo Inland Port in Anambra State will be ready for concession within two weeks, authorities have said.
General Manager of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mike Dike, made the revelation of the weekend during the visit of the National Good Governance Team to the port.
The port is yet to commence operation nearly five months after it was commissioned by President Goodluck Jonathan.
The Minister of Information, Mr. Labaran Maku, said the port would function alongside other ports under construction, including the ongoing Oguta sea inland port in Imo State and Baro port in Niger State to free Nigerian roads of cargo carriage.
He also said the resuscitation of rail transport in the country would also complement the river ports.
Dike, however, stated that the port was ready to be concessioned to the private sector, and that advertisement for concession would be placed within two weeks.
He added that NIWA was awaiting a go ahead from the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC).
He said the N4.6 billion cargo ports which has 3,000 containers warehouse capacity of 40 tonnes each was awarded in 2010 and completed in 2012 as against the 2011 expected date of completion.
Meanwhile, there were apprehensions amongst port users that only smaller ships will be able to pass under the famous River Niger bridge connecting Onitsha to Asaba which is a nexus to the port from Calabar axis except further dredging is performed.
Dike said all the equipment needed for the commencement of operation was available, stating that dredging was an exercise that would continue even after commencement of operation.
It is unclear whether further dredging is likely to affect the foundation of the bridge which is the major access road to the South-eastern part of the country.