By Stephen Ubanna
The government of former President Olusegun Obasanjo has raised the hope of Igbo importers and Igbo traders of going to develop the Onitsha river port in Anambra state. Project from the past governments.
It was learnt that contracts were awarded for the two multi- billion projects, giving importers hope that their ordeal of their Containerised cargoes to the south east would soon be over. A Presidency source told The Value News that Jonathan had opportunity of releasing funds to the contractor to expedite work on the development of the Onitsha port but he kept on dillydallying until he was defeated in the 2015 Presidential election by President Muhammadu Buhari of the ruling All Progressive Congress, APC.
While work on the Baro port had continued without stop, Danladi Ibrahim , a former Nigerian Inland Water Ways, NIWA, Managing Director had disclosed that the Onitsha river has been Concessioned to two undisclosed Companies, adding that the port will commence operations at the end of 2018.
Ibrahim had said that the Concession will last for 25
He may have shown that the Onitsha river port project does not matter as his attention was focused on the development of the Baro river port in Niger state. Funds were released to NIWA, overseeing the projects to mobilise the contractor on site. Note that the Baro river port, particular, has been on the priority list of projects to be developed in the north by successive Administrations but the efforts put in place to develop it, according to a source in the ministry of Transportation since the 1980s had proved abortive.
Late President Musa Yar’
Given the importance of the project in the country’s intermodal transport, Jonathan , the then President was said to have directed Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, the then minister of Finance and Coordinator of the Economy to transfer an alleged N19 billion intervention funds for the dredging of the lower river Niger to the ministry of Niger Delta headed by Godsday Orubebe instead of the ministry of Transport, for shoreline protection and land reclamation. He was said to have given the contractor four weeks to do the work but that was how far he could go.
There is no gain saying the fact that the Baro river port was about 90 percent completed by the Jonathan Administration before it was abandoned which makes it easy for the Buhari Administration to take it over and thus, claim credit for its completion, to put the north on the list of regions that have seaports in the country.
The Katsina state born Nigerian President was said to have repeatedly made it clear since 2015, that he will make sure all the abandoned projects by the Jonathan Administration are completed including the Baro river port project in Niger state was completed.
He has every reason to put the Baro port on the priority list to create more jobs in the north. He is optimistic that at least two million jobs will be created at the port alone. Note that the north is land-locked and no single seaport.Signs that the Baro river port which contract was awarded almost at the same time with the Onitsha river port by the Federal Executive Council, FEC, had reached advanced stage emerged last December when Senator Olorunnmbe Mamora, a close political ally of Asiwaju Bola Tinubu , a former governor of Lagos state and Managing Director, NIWA, confirmed that N2.5 billion cargo handling equipment have been installed after a visit to the isite last December.
The progress report of the work at the site may have gladdened Buhari that the project would be commissioned before this forthcoming Presidential election to list it as one of the achievements of his Administration and why the people of the north Central geo-political region must vote for him in the election to return him to power to do more for the region.
Last week, Buhari Commissioned, the port which was said to have completed at a cost of N6 billion by the Chinese Civil Engineering and Construction, CGCC, Global Project Nigeria limited. Tayo Fadile,
An elated Buhari was said to have declared while Commissioning the Baro river port that ”it will enhance intermodal transportation activity in the country”, stating that his administration will do more in the region if re-elected into office . He cited one of the projects that will be quickly executed by the government in the state would be the rehabilitation of roads leading to the Baro river port to facilitate movement of goods and services in and out of the port.
He noted that the newly Commissioned river port will ”reduce the
Rotimi Amaechi , a former governor of Rivers state and minister of Transportation who could not hide his feelings was said to have thanked the President for directing the completion of all abandoned projects of past Administrations, in the country, which Baro river project was one of them.
Many had expected the minister to remind Buhari about the abandoned Onitsha river port, which had been on the drawing board for