Containers at the port
The management of Rivers Ports, Port Harcourt, has called on Nigerian importers, especially those in the South East and South-south to change their attitude of patronising the ports situated in Lagos, even when it is cheaper to receive their consignments from the ports located in Port Harcourt, Onne and Onitsha.
The Rivers Ports Manager, Mr. Oladele Alabi, made the call in Port Harcourt while receiving members of the House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport, who were on a recent tour of the port facilities as part of their oversight functions.
Enumerating challenges of the port, Alabi flayed the importers’ anxiety over the Rivers Port and preference for Lagos ports even though the Rivers ports were closest to them.
Though he admitted that the ports access road was a major concern, he however noted that while the port’s vessel traffic for wet cargo has increased, it was equally important that the traffic of container cargo also improved.
“It has been impossible to make the people do a rethink on their thought that doing business at the Rivers ports is expensive. This zone is not necessarily more expensive,” he said.
Providing substantive figures, Alabi further debunked the claim that the port was under-utilised.
“Let me say clearly that the Rivers port is not under-utilised. From nothing, our cargo throughput was four million metric tonnes four years ago. Last year we had 7 million MT. The challenge is that we handle more of wet cargo. We will be happier if we handle more of containerised cargoes. Even the terminals here can do better. They are all ready for business. I am aware that one terminal operator has acquired equipment which has not been put to use since last year,” he said.
Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, in his remarks after touring the port’s facilities with other members of the committee, advised the management of Rivers Port to put its programmes and plans in concrete terms towards attracting appropriate fund allocations in the 2013 budget.
Noting that there were improvements at the port, Ugwuanyi said the management of the port should not relent in its efforts to make the port internationally competitive. This, he noted, would mean more investment from government and good planning and management on the side of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).
“In a few months, the 2013 budget will be tabled before the National Assembly. You must articulate your challenges, while also remembering that your performance in your current capital projects and contracts is key in determining what is accrued to you in the next budget. We want to add value to the system and to take this sector to the next level”, Ugwuanyi said.