Few weeks ago, Onne Port played host to WAFMAX, the biggest vessel to have made a sail into any port not only in Nigeria but the West and Central Africa in general, notwithstanding the sea port at Tema in Ghanan or Lome in Togo Nigeria has only river ports with long channels linking them with the sea. It is only now that the country has consider it necessary to develop a deep sea port at Lekki, Badagry and Ibaka in Akwa Ibom State.
The West African Maximum (WAFMAX) size vessel sailed into Onne port with ease, although after a pre-trial call, which served as experimental call to de-termine the level of success during the actual and real navigation into the port by the same vessel
The success of navigation into Onne port was due to the relentless efforts of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) that dredged and redesigned the Port Harcourt channel in concert with its joint venture company, the Bonny Channel Company.
We commend the Nigerian Ports Authority that made this possible, especially as the Shipping giant, Maersk Shipping line intends to deploy 10 more ship of the same size to Nigeria and the rest of West Africa. The company has the plan also to increase the present call time at the Nigerian port from one to two a week, each carrying 45,000 containers to be discharged at the ports.
The frequency of call of this vessel, together with calls by other vessels of the same size are expected to transform Nigeria into a hub of maritime activities as containers belonging to Nigeria land- locked neighbours like Chad and Niger will first have Nigeria as their destination before trans-shipment to their final destination.
We say well done to the Nigerian Ports Authority for this show of patriotism and selfless service to the nation and for working hard to ensure the successful en-try of this vessel in the country.
This effort by the NPA will need to be complemented by other agencies of the government to actualize NPA’s vision: to make Nigeria a hub of shipping activities in the sub-region realizable.
Chiefly among these agencies is the security forces which are now required to ensure peaceful environ-ment needed for the emergence of the hub port in Nigeria.
The absence of peace in the country, especially where the ports are located could mess up NPA’s transformation agenda for the Nigerian ports.
As there are many other factors to determine the emergence of a hub port, the Federal Government will need to reform the land and rail transport to make them more effective and readily for use by land lock countries that will eventually rely on Nigeria for trans-shipment.
The everyday bottleneck between Mile 2 and Apapa must also be removed for ease of goods movement, es-pecially those with landlocked countries, to their final destination.
Efforts aimed at the actualization of 48 hours clear-ing of goods at the port must now be reinvigorated so that goods meant for transshipment are delivered to their owners well on time.
Besides, everything that is needed to facilitate trade must be provided at the ports. The one stop shop for clearing at the port must be put in place while it is here advocated that electronic clearing devices be put in place to reduce human contact during clearing process. This will go a long way at reducing the high level of corruption at the ports. This advice is coming on the heels of the plan to increase the vessels call from one to two every week.
The increase in calls will no double task our ability to promote trade through quick clearance of goods, in order to avoid congestion at the ports.
SOURCE: INTERNATIONAL TRADE MONITOR