Hope rises for businesses as FG concessions Onitsha Port for 30 years

THERE are hopes for improved ease of doing business and trade facilitation in the Southeast as the Federal government said it has successfully concessioned the Onitsha Port in Anambra State.

The government also informed that discussions were ongoing for the concessioning of Baro and some other ports across the country.

The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Muoghalu, made the disclosure on April 20 to State House correspondents in Abuja after a private meeting with President Muhammadu Buhari.


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Muoghalu said such concessioning would ease pressure on the government and attract revenue to it as the concessioning firm would be paying royalty to the government.

“For Onitsha Port, we have successfully concessioned it and handed it over to Universal Elison, a company that is partnering with Port of Tuna, for the next 30 years.

“Now, because of limited resources and to reduce pressure on government, we opened up discussions with other interested organisations. Unsolicited proposals have come for the concessioning of Baro in Niger State, Oguta in Imo State and Lokoja, in the Kogi State capital, although they’re still under construction,” he said.

Muoghalu explained that the Oguta River Port was not on the budget prior to his appointment as the NIWA chief executive, but was brought into it.

He said that the fencing of the Oguta Port had been completed, while some basic facilities required for a seaport to operate were being put in place, depending on the availability of resources.

He said, “Same is applicable to Lokoja, in Kogi State. We are taking it from two perspectives, which is by completing the building and concessioning it so that the new concessionaire can complete the ports and put it effectively to use.”

Muoghalu said that cargo was being moved between Onne and Onitsha, while Lagos to Onitsha was being concluded.

“So, you find out that these jetties and ports are all in line with rivers Benue and Niger. We are very conscious of that and whatever we are doing, we have that at the back of our mind,” he said.






     

     

    Ports are important network nodes for cargo transportation between cities and even countries, and they play vital roles in stimulating urban economies. However, at the same time, port production activities also consume various resources, like water, electricity, coal, and land.

    Available statistics have shown that the annual volume of trade at the Onitsha market is in excess of $3 billion, with about 40 per cent of this figure in constant circulation through unbanked transactions.

    Onitsha is located in Anambra State metropolitan, and many industry watchers believe the state will improve on its current ranking of 7th on ease of doing business.

    “This development will improve trade facilitation and improve further ranking of the state on ease of doing business,” said Celestine Okeke, a development economist, who spoke with The ICIR.

    Harrison Edeh is a journalist with the International Centre for Investigative Reporting, always determined to drive advocacy for good governance through holding public officials and businesses accountable.

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