The Federal Government is perfecting arrangements to declare and gazette Onitsha River Port as Port of Origin for cargoes coming into the country from any part of the world and Final Destination to those going out of the country as export, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has said.
This process is commencing nearly seven years after the Federal Government, under the then administration of ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, invested over N4.6 billion in rebuilding the abandoned Onitsha River Port, without serious business activities taking place at the river port.
At the completion of the process and upon the declaration, Onitsha River Port, will be recognised by the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), as a port to which goods came be consigned from, and from where goods can also be consigned to, from another destination, which could be sea or inland port located anywhere in the world.
According to NIWA, Rotimi Chibuike Amaechi, Minister of Transportation has granted the approval for the commencement of the declaration and gazetting process, which if completed is expected to give some measure of comfort to shippers.
As part of the process, the port which has the capacity to handle about 1.2 million twenty-foot equivalent unit (TEUs), is expected to be provided with the Nigeria Customs Service (NCS), Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Port Health Services (PHS) and other relevant agencies of government to enable clearance of import and export cargoes upon arrival.
Olorunnimbe Mamora, managing director/CEO of NIWA, who disclosed this in an advert publication in the Nation newspaper, described the move as part of the Federal Government’s efforts to decongest Lagos Ports, extend shipping services to the hinterland, revitalise inland waterways transport and promote intermodal transport connectivity in the country.
Mamora said that when the process is completed, it will also boost the image of NIWA, stimulate economic activities and encourage patronage of the Eastern ports apart from enhancing the productivity and revenue drive of the government.