GOING by the quantum of modern sophisticated equipment being installed at both the Onitsha and Baro River Ports, the facilities will be of world-class standard when fully completed and become the destination point and hub of business activities in the country.
Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA), Chief George Muoghalu, made this assertion at All Saints Cathedral Church Hall, Onitsha, Monday, while briefing stakeholders on the state and extent of work going on at the two river ports and the facilities so far acquired and being installed.
He however lamented that since 42 years of the establishment, the facilities were undergoing atrophy due to abandonment by successive administrations.
In his words, “I took tour of the 26 NIWA offices except eight, when I assumed duty to have first hand information on NIWA facilities and factors militating against smooth navigation of the waterways in the country and talked to my staff and sold my vision to them on having functional river ports.”
” Baro River Port was the first tour I embarked upon by water because I cannot be the NIWA MD and tour the 26 offices built by NIWA on road.
“Onitsha and Baro River Ports are of world-class standard because of the facilities therein. These world class investments have been left unutilised for about 42 years, 42 years is not 42 days. This cannot continue under my watch”.
” For the very first time the barge has landed in Onitsha from Onne, we were greatly encouraged by the reactions generated by the maiden flagging of the haulage of cargo from Onne Port to Onitsha River Port”.
So far we are receiving calls from the world, America, China, India, among others and
they were asking how come. Machineries are ready for function in Onitsha Port”.
On why the customs and other bodies have not come in preparatory for the port to commence full operation, Muoghalu reiterated that Onitsha Port is not yet a port of destination where you have customs and other bodies to clear the goods, we are working towards making Onitsha a destination port”.
Earlier in his remarks, the President, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ONICCIMA), Chief Chris Ukachukwu, stressed the need for Onitsha to be made port of destination.
He listed the benefits of having a functional Onitsha River Port to include, rapid industrialisation, reduction in crime and youth restiveness, heavy reduction in logistical costs as the waterway offers a cheaper alternative to the roads”, among others.
The ONICCIMA boss pleaded further, “we would like to appeal to the federal government to urgently consider the linking of Onitsha River Port to the National Rail Network.
This is in line with global logistical best practices which would provide for the full optimisation of multi-model transportation capacity within the city and the region as a whole”, he explained.