The National Executive of the Ijaw Youth Council (IYC) has berated the federal government over what it described as deliberate abandonment of sea ports in Port Harcourt, Warri, and Calabar.
The IYC also accused the federal government of imposition of high tariffs and implementation of stifling policies aimed at sabotaging the economy and marginalising the good people of the Niger Delta region.
The IYC stated this in a statement signed by its National Spokesman, Henry Iyalla, which was obtained by THISDAY.
According to the IYC, â€œIt is quite pathetic to see that the only sea port in operation in the country today is that of Lagos State. According to a newspaper report on the 31st of July, 2017, no fewer than two million containers laden with various cargoes worth over 5trillion are currently stranded at the Lagos Port, with several vessels waiting to berth as if the country lacks sea ports with the capacity to satisfy the demands of the industry.
â€œWe therefore condemn, in totality, the huge infrastructural decay, high disparity on cargo charges and deliberate stifling policies against the Niger delta ports, compared to her Lagos counterpart; regrettably this has brought about sustained under-utilization of ports within the region, reduced economic gain and mass unemployment of youths. The Onne port which seems to be the only vibrant port in the region is strictly mandated to focus on oil and gas-related cargo, which makes their charges astronomically high; even when non-oil cargos are charged, they are charged as if they are oil-related which is not good for business in this era of economic recession.â€
The IYC therefore, called on the federal government and the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, to as a matter of urgency, put in place modalities for the re-habitation and full operational use of all the moribund ports within the Niger Delta region as a show of interest in the overall economic development of the Niger Delta people.
Furthermore, the group urged the government in power to call the relevant regulators and agencies to order and mandate them to put seamless policies in place so that importers from Onitsha, Aba, Port Harcourt and environs will not be made to go through the current stress of passing their goods through Lagos, a situation that shouldnâ€™t be considering the long distance.
According to the IYC, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and Nigeria Shippers Council (NSC), as regulators, should strive to bring down the charges, take a cursory look at the stifling policies. They also called on the regulators to address the infrastructural deficit so that Niger Delta ports can be vibrant to reduce unemployment in the region and provide an alternate route for cargoes, while Lagos port is decongested.