WorldStage Newsonline-- The management of Rivers Port, Port Harcourt has called on Nigerian importers to stop patronising only Lagos ports, saying it’s cheaper to import through Port Harcourt and the East.
Manager, Rivers Port, Mr. Oladele Alabi, made the call in Port Harcourt while receiving members of the House of Representative Committee on Marine Transport, who were on tour of the port facilities as part of the lawmakers’ oversight functions.
Enumerating challenges of the port, Mr. Alabi, lamented importers’ anxiety over the port and preference for Lagos ports, even though the Rivers Ports were closest to them. He also said the ports access road was a major concern.
Alabi observed that while the port’s vessel traffic for wet cargo had increased, it was equally important that that of container cargo is improved.
He said: “It has been impossible to make the people do a rethink on their thought that doing business at the Rivers Ports is expensive. This zone is not necessarily more expensive.”
Alabi further debunked the claim that the port was underutilised, saying, “Let me say clearly that the Rivers Ports is not underutilised. From nothing, our cargo throughput was four million metric tons four years ago. Last year we had 7million metric tonnes. The challenge is that we handle more of wet cargo. We will be happier if we handle more of containerised cargoes.
“Even the terminals here can do better. They are all ready for business. I am aware that one terminal operator has acquired equipment which has not been put to use since last year,” he said.
Chairman of the House Committee on Marine Transport, Hon. Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi shortly after touring the port’s facilities with other members of the committee, advised the management of Rivers Ports to put its programmes and plans in concrete terms towards attracting appropriate fund allocations in the 2013 budget.
While noting that there were improvements at the port, Hon. Ugwuanyi said the management should not stop short of making the port internationally competitive. This he noted would mean more investment from government and good planning and management on the side of the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA).
Ugwuanyi said: “In few months, the 2013 budget will be discussed on the floor of the National Assembly. You must articulate your challenges, while also remembering that your performance in your current capital projects and contracts is key to determining what is accrued to you in the next budget.
“We want to add value to the system and to take this sector to the next level.”