The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has flagged off the construction of the 4.5 kilometers access road ‘D’ at the Federal Ocean Terminal in Onne Port Complex to ease the movement of cargo in and out of the port.
The road, which is to be built with street lights and other complementary facilities, would be delivered within 10 months.
Mohammed Bello-Koko, managing director of NPA, who flagged off the construction in Onne on Friday during his official visit to the port, said the road was part of the port expansion plan of phase 4B that was awarded to the Deep Offshore.
According to him, the cost of the project was part of the total port rehabilitation that was awarded long ago but was suspended due to some reasons.
“The road is the main artery into the Onne Port, and we have witnessed a large increase in terms of cargo and other businesses. We felt it was time we ask the contractor to go back to the site. This will ease movement into the port. While we are complaining about the roads outside the port, which is outside our purview, we want to make sure that the roads in the port are in good condition,” he said.
Earlier before the flag-off, Bello-Koko also commissioned three marine crafts, including a pilot cutter, a security patrol boat, and a security boat in line with the NPA mandate to provide marine side infrastructure to support port operation.
“We are doing these things to encourage businesses to move to the eastern ports in order to reduce congestion in Lagos ports by ensuring that the eastern ports are functional,” he said.
On the export processing plant run by the West African Container Terminal (WACT), one of the terminal operators in Onne, he said it was part of the NPA’s strategy to work with the Federal Government to improve the export of non-oil products.
“The export terminal has the capacity to accept, arrange and bag exports. It also containerised the cargo before sending the goods to the ship for export. It helps to reduce the cost and time wastage for exporters but it also ensures that products are exported fresh in line with the international best practices,” he said.
On the challenge of security facing businesses at Onne Port, the NPA boss said, the authority is working with the Nigerian Navy to improve security along the waterways.
He assured that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has also deployed security assets under the Deep Blue Project that would be used for offshore patrols.
“We are also working to fence all the open spaces at the port that have resulted either in attack on ships or enchantment to the port properties by communities. We will ensure that the contract is awarded as quickly as possible,” he added.
In terms of infrastructure, he said, there is a berth that needs to be rehabilitated and the payment is being worked on.
Speaking at the stakeholders’ interactive session in Onne Port, Kazeem Adebisi, president of Shipping Trade Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Onne chapter, appealed to the NPA management to urge other government agencies to comply with the joint boarding policy aimed at reducing ship delay and improving the turnaround time of ship.
He complained of the delay experienced by ship charterers when their ships come into Onne late at night without agency officials to board the ship for inspection.
Responding, Bello-Koko promised to reach out to the agencies that are not complying with the order on ease of doing business that requires all agencies to jointly board vessels for inspection.
On the dilapidated state of the major road to the port, he assured that the ministry of Niger Delta has taken up the road reconstruction.