THE Minister of State for Transportation, Gbemisola Saraki, says the Onitsha port is positioned to generate over N23 billion to the Federal Government in 30 years.
During the signing of the concession of the port on Thursday in Abuja, Saraki said the port had lots of economic benefits to the country.
According to her, the port will among other things, ensure the 60 per cent shipped cargoes, which hitherto goes through Onne port to Onitsha to be transported directly.
She said: “There is a lot of economic growth, there is going to be 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.
”It is a very good thing and we are exceptionally proud that at long last we have actually achieved this.
”It’s being signed and we look forward to the growth there to materialize.”
According to the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) the minister said that the Baro, Lokoja and Oguta ports, which are at different stages of completion, will be considered 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 said.
The Managing Director, the National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA) Dr George Moghalu, said the Onitsha port would reduce the volume of cargoes transported via roads to the South East.
Moghalu said: ”Our roads are not designed to carry the kind of weight they are carrying.
”Over 60 per cent of the containers that arrive Nigeria through Onne, Tin Can or Apapa port ends 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 commended the concessioneers in the efforts they were already making in bringing in investors into the country.
Moghalu also expressed hope that the concessioing would open up opportunities for other ports in the country to be given due considerations.
Meanwhile, the Acting Director-General, Infrastructure Concesion Regulatory Commission,(ICRC) Mr Michael Ohiani, reiterated that the 30 years concession would generate over N23 billion to the government.
He said: ”After 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 relaunch 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.”