The Hon Minister of Transportation, Rt. Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has said that incessant insecurity within the Eastern Coastline is responsible for the low level of economic activities in the Ports especially Warri Port in Delta State and Onne port in Rivers State.
The Minister made this assertion recently at the 2nd Maritime Stakeholders’ interactive Forum organised by the Federal Ministry of Transportation in Warri, Delta State.
Amaechi explained that the two Ports in the zone had a great economic potential to compete favourably with the Lagos Ports in generating substantial revenue to the Federation Account and can also create massive employment opportunities for the people in the region. He lamented that the insecurity bedevilling the South-South area has made the Ports unviable.
According to him, the situation is so bad that the business Community in the zone prefers to patronise the Lagos Ports for their goods and products noting that the Apapa and Tin Can lsland Ports are relatively safe, secured and economically viable.
He said that Warri and Port Harcourt used to be investors’ destinations before the advent of security problem in the Zone tasking the Stakeholders in the industry to work together and put an end to the scourge.
“We must on our own tell ourselves the home truth. Warri used to be a haven before and also Port-Harcourt. But now, they have been discarded. We must lock ourselves inside a room and ask ourselves a question. Are we poorer than Lagos and Kano people? We must work back and solve our problem.’’ he said.
Rotimi Amaechi disclosed that the Federal Executive Council (FEC) has approved the sum of $195M Contract for the Security and Safety project of the Nation’s territorial waters stressing the need for the Stakeholders in the zone to vehemently oppose those who are working against the take-off of the project.
He further explained that these people including some few Security Personnel are the ones benefiting and making billions of Naira from the bad system promising that he would mention names when his current efforts to solve the problem become hopeless.
“There are some people in the system making efforts to sabotage the Contract by stopping the Security Contract. They knew that if there is Security, they won’t impose any kind of levies on you.” He said.
According to him, the Contract is part of the measures being put in place by the Federal Government to secure Nigerian Waterways for legitimate business to thrive and also solve part of the Niger– Delta problem.
Amaechi therefore urged the Ship Owners in the Country especially those from the zone to join hands with him in fighting the saboteurs of the Federal Government’s security efforts.
“You must come up with your petition, indicating how much you are losing with statistics to support its impact on the economy so that we can convey it to the President.’’ he said.
He also warned the Public Servants who are working against the implementation of the Security Project to desist saying that he would work within his capacity to secure the Nigerian Waterways.
“We need to restore Warri as it used to be so that Warri and Port Harcourt can bounce back’’ he added.
Earlier in her contribution, the Chairman of Ship Owners Forum, Margaret Onyema-Orakwusi has urged the Government to address the issue of insecurity in Nigeria Waterways in order to increase investor’s confidence. She also stated that insecurity in the Country has led to the closing down of many Companies which incidentally has forced their relocations to neighbouring Countries.
She therefore canvassed for the establishment of Maritime Bank to resuscitate the shipping business in Nigeria.
In his submission, the President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Comrade Waheed Adeyanju urged the Government to look into the issues bordering on the Dock Workers Welfares such as resuscitation of training for Dock Workers and Seafarers so as to create a pool of Professionals that will take up appointment in the Nation’s Seaport.
In his closing remarks, the Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr. Dakuku Peterside has enjoined the Stakeholders in the Maritime industry to build the industry into a sustainable development assuring that the industry will provide economic opportunities for Nigerians.
“This is your industry not our industry, we are servants to the industry. We should show willingness to build this industry that would serve our interest’’, he added.
He noted that the presence of the Stakeholders at the occasion was a testimony of their willingness to partner with the government to grow the Maritime sub sector of the economy.