The Nigeria Shippers Council has hailed Akwa Ibom State government’s commitment to the actualisation of Ibom Deep Seaport Project, saying that the project can provide 180,000 job opportunities.
The Ibom deep seaport is part of the Ibom Industrial City that comprises other key facilities such as housing estates, refineries and a petroleum chemical complex.
The project is at the stage of its full business case compliance certificate being presented to the federal executive council, an indication that much is expected to be done towards its realisation.
According to Hassan Bello, executive secretary of the council, when completed, the Ibom Deep Seaport in Akwa Ibom and Lekki Deep Seaport in Lagos which are projected for completion in 2021 will create about 180,000 job opportunities each 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”.
Hassan who spoke in Uyo said the Deep Seaport is a project undertaken under a public-private partnership and 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 new 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 this time we have the deep sea port 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 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 of 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.