The Nigeria Shippers Council has hailed Akwa Ibom State government’s commitment to the actualisation of Ibom Deep Seaport Project, confirming that the project will provide 180,000 job opportunities.
Speaking in an interview, the Executive Secretary of the Shippers Council, Hassan Bello who spoke on the challenges confronting ports operations in the country, noted that when completed, the Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom and Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos, which is projected for completion in 2021 will create about 180,000 job opportunities for Nigerians.
“There should be intra and inter Ports competition. Based on this, we are also glad that two new important ports will operate in 2021. The Lekki Deep Sea Port and the Ibom Deep Sea Port”.
“These are very important contributions of government through public-private partnerships. Lekki, for example, will create about 180,000 jobs. The same thing with Ibom and I want to congratulate the government of Akwa Ibom and the Federal Government in all these PPPs.”
“So we are looking forward to their coming but the shippers’ council is always alert on what type of ports are we going to have. I say this because there are conventional ports and there are modern ports”.
Welcoming the Deep Seaport which is a project undertaken under a public-private partnership, the Shippers Council boss commended the Akwa Ibom State government and the federal government for their commitment to the actualization of the project which is expected to commence operation by 2021. Hassan, however, offered a piece of advice on the type of ports the country should have, noting that the mistakes of Apapa and Tin Can Ports in Lagos should be avoided in the news ports that would become operational next year.
“We cannot make the mistake of Apapa and Tin Can. We should banish that and that is why we are very critical. We welcome the idea the time we had the deep seaport because of the advantages, where larger ships will bring in cargo. So the cost of bringing containers will reduce.
“We have to make it a port that has enough characteristics. We have to make it a port of vision and ambition because we want to dominate the region. We should not be ashamed of dominating the region, especially now.
“So the type of port we build should represent us well, not just building a port for the sake of it, no! It has to be one that will ensure that you have no business examining containers at the ports.
“Cargoes should be able to leave the ports as soon as they arrive in order to make things easy. “The government, terminal owners and shipping companies will make more money when it happens like this. There must be a hinterland connection and this is very important. So are you building a local, regional or an international port? “I think we should have regional dominance and we should not be ashamed of doing that. We are keen on seeing that our new ports will not become Apapa 2, just like they say in Nigerian movies. No, we are not going to have another Apapa and Tin Can. Rather; we will leave all the troubles of both of them there.
“We must have multi-modal access and thank God we have been able to prevail on the Federal Ministry of Transportation and now it is in the budget to connect the Lekki port with rail. And this was because we insisted”. “We must also have modern electronic traffic management. “And that port at Lekki should not be a storage port. It must be a transit port. There should not be a situation where containers are stacked in the ports.”