Seaports in Rivers State are now safe and busy, the Port Harcourt port manager, Abubakar Garuba Umar, has declared.
Umar, who assumed office in 2016, made the declaration when the Energy and Maritimes Reporters (EMR) corp paid him a visit in the Port Harcourt port complex. The port manager said complaints before then were that the ports were unsafe and full of danger and that nothing much was happening there.
On how the turnaround took place, Umar said upon resumption,his team embarked on sensitisation drive to importers in the region on the need to route their goods through the Port Harcourt port. “We created awareness on the viability of the Rivers port and we allayed their fears about insecurity and other matters.”
He said the stakeholders bought the idea. ”Now, the Port Harcourt port is busy and viable. Most of our berths are now occupied. Containers now come because two shipping lines now come to Port Harcourt and one more is about to join.
He revealed how the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) worked to decongest the port road (Barbour Road) which was rehabilitated by the Rivers State government in 2016. “Road congestion, which was a fact of the Harbour Road, is no more so. This is because we took proactive measures to keep that in check. We now insist that our road be free. We say, do not use port road for parking.”
Umar said insecurity was a big source of fear in the past, but that it is not anymore. “From 2017, Rivers ports operate on Step 1 security grade, not step 2 anymore.”
Responding to issues raised by the EMR leadership, Umar said the appeal for timely information to the media was a welcome one. He reminded journalists that there are listed bodies that have right by international regulations to have a presence in ports around the world.
He however said access to the ports for information to newsmen would not suffer. “Update of information is important and you have already observed that we are steadily reaching out to the media. We believe that regular update is key”
He said the NPA in Port Harcourt was prepared to partner with the EMR to further take the message of the authority further; “We will work with the media to achieve better information dissemination. We can only request you to always clarify information before use.”
Earlier, the chairman of EMR, Martins Giadom of Rivers State Broadcasting Corporation, in his address, called for openness and free flow of information, saying the feats so far recorded by the port manager were noted by the group.
“This visit affords us the opportunity to explore areas of mutual benefits in the pursuit of a better port system in Rivers State and other facilities of the NPA in the state which would help transform the ports to become economically viable, business-friendly and responsive to global best practices.”
Giadom said as professional journalists with keen interest and a clear mandate to report the Energy and Maritime sub-sectors of the economy, the EMR would play critical roles in the dissemination of information in the south-south and east. “The Energy and Maritime Reporters (EMR) corp is an organisation founded by senior journalists in the Energy and Maritime sectors of the profession with the key objective of pursuing strategic media goals that would help bring to better limelight the issues of the sectors.
EMR thus remains an organization that is focused on working in synergy with relevant stakeholders in the energy and maritime sectors to better inform the public, better engage operators in the sectors and better enhance economic activities in both the Energy and Maritime sub-sectors.”
He called for support in consistent training of journalists (EMR) that cover such sensitive and specialised sub-sectors as energy and maritime in the South-South and East.