The Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, has said that the Onitsha River port is positioned to generate over N23 billion to the Federal Government in 30 years.
Saraki said this during the signing of the concession of the port on Thursday in Abuja. She said the port had lots of economic benefits to the country.
“So there is a lot of economic growth, there is going to be a creation of wealth, creation of jobs, security and greater development. We hope it is a catalyst for other river ports, so that it will decongest other ports and bring about growth.
“You know the traffic on our road, the state of our roads and the tankers and freight being moved on our roads have now reduced. And so it is a very good thing and we are exceptionally proud that at long last we have achieved this,” the Minister said.
She said the river ports in Baro, Lokoja and Oguta, which are at different stages of completion, will be considered for concessioning after the Onitsha port.
“The most important thing is that we already have interest from potential investors who want to actually take over this,” she added.
The Managing Director, of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Moghalu, said the Onitsha port would reduce the volume of cargoes transported via roads to the south-east.
“Our roads are not designed to carry the weight they are carrying. Over 60 per cent of the containers that arrive Nigeria through Onne, Tin Can or Apapa port end up in Onitsha and what it translates is that these containers are moved by trailers. Onitsha port is very well positioned to play a key role in addressing this if opportunities are provided,” he said.
Moghalu expressed hope that the concession would open up opportunities for other ports in the country to be given due consideration.
The Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC), Michael Ohiani, confirmed that the 30-year concession would generate over N23 billion for the government.
He said, “After a rigorous procurement process, Universal Elysium Consortium emerged as the preferred concessionaire for the concession of Onitsha River Port. Over the 30-year concession period, the concessionaire will be responsible for all the activities and maintenance of the port.
“The asset along with the entire infrastructure will be returned to the authorities at the end of the concession period. The redevelopment of Onitsha river port is seen as a boost to commercial activities in the south-east. Importers and traders from the commercial towns of Onitsha, Nnewi, Aba and Ogbete-Enugu see the re-launch as a welcome development from the Federal Government.
“The port will serve as an alternative mode of transporting goods from Lagos and Port Harcourt by road,” he said.