Nigeria may lose her quest to become a hub for seaports in the African continent if the barrage of bottlenecks bordering on infrastructural decay and legislative inadequacies are not addressed.
The observation was made on Monday by Ademola Akin, in an interview with The Tide in a-4-day training workshop for Dockworkers on “Cargo Handling Technique” organized by the Nigerian Maritime Administration, and Safety Agency (NIMASA) in Port Harcourt.
Akin who is a maritime consultant and one of the resource persons, said inspite of the natural endowments and maritime potentials there are fears that Nigeria may not achieve its dreams of becoming the maritime hub of the African Continent due to bureaucratic bottlenecks, infrastructural decay and policy inconsistencies.
According to him, the issue of a hub status for the African states had become a “sink or swim” paradox for now, saying that “Nigeria has no choice” than to act fast in the face of challenges currently posed by South-Africa, Ivory Coast and Ghana.
He noted that with all the advantages enjoyed by the country such as the control of over 25 per cent of the African population, a 25 per cent market share of Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), ports activities as well as being the second highest host of the container traffic in the sub-region, the country is no doubt a natural hub station.
Akin posited that the need to create a general maritime plus oil and gas integrated hub port for the sub region is further boosted by the realization that 26 major ports in West Africa handled a total of 250 million tons of cargo in 2000, of which 66 per cent were oil exports.
“Deep offshore market is a time limited opportunity for Nigeria to overcome the natural resource course. Over 100 billion USD will be spent on deep offshore projects in West Africa.
Nigeria risk losing out to its near and far neigbours and become increasingly served by trans-shipment, just as well developed ports will receive the larger ships, while others will be served in trans shipment in feeder vessels,” he said.
He however, pointed out that despite these arrays of endowments, the country is nonetheless faced with strong competitors who may grab the opportunity, should Nigeria slack in taking her rightful place in this regard.
To attain the status and keep it, Akin opined that Nigeria must take steps to surmount well known national challenges, such as “absence of deep water container trans-shipment terminals, lack of adequate berthing capacity as well as lack of an integrated land distribution system, particularly for transit traffic.”
More Youths Engage In Artisanal Refining
As unemployment bites harder amidst rising cost of living, more youths in rural communities in Rivers State are now going into artisanal refining business to earn a living.
The Tide reliably gathered that some youths residing in Port Harcourt City were gradually moving to rural communities for bunkering business otherwise known as ‘kpo-fire’
Narrating his experience to The Tide, Mr Godwin Ibeneme who resides in Rumuekini in Akpor, said he was introduced into the kpor-fire business by his father.
Ibeneme, who hails from Ibaa/ Obelle area of Emohua Local Government Area, said his father compelled him to join other youths who were thriving in the business in the community.
“My father came to my house here in Rumuekini, and told me to come to the village, that other young men are making it through kpo-fire’ bunkering since I have lost my job.
“ I didn’t waste time to give it a trial, because I had really looked for what to do, since I lost my job at a fast-food company. Since then, I can tell you that I have been taking care of myself, unlike before when everything looked hopeless”, he explained.
The Tide also learnt that the kpo-fire’ business was currently thriving in Isiokpo axis of Ikwerre Local Government Area of the state.
A resident of the community who pleaded anonymity, told The Tide that there was a high level of discrimination in the business.
According to him, he decided to engage himself at the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa, to hustle for his daily bread, instead of staying idle.
The Tide recalls that the Federal Government had promised to build modular refineries in the Niger Delta region since 2019 as an alternative to illegal oil bunkering in the region as well as to create employment for the youth.
The Tide also reports that three years after the promise was made, nothing has been done in that regard.
Oyigbo Cassava Plant, Legacy Project -Akawor
The Chairman of the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) in Rivers State, Amb. Desmond Akawor, says the cassava plant project, being executed by the Rivers State Government in Oyigbo is a legacy project that will generate huge employment for Rivers people.
He said the project was well thought out and would stand the test of time to tackle unemployment as well as ensure food availability in the state.
Akawor made the remarks during an interaction with journalists at the weekend in Port Harcourt.
According to him, the cassava plant which was supposed to be executed by the previous administrations, was initially planned to be a joint venture between the state government and some organisations, but that the other partners did not pay their counterpart funding.
“The steps taken by the Wike-led administration to bring this project to life without the counterpart funding is commendable, because of the huge economic benefits it will give to the state.
“Many people have also been employed at the construction sites of flyovers being executed by Julius Berger. Eighty percent of those working there are indigenes, while the company provides the expatriates”, he said.
The PDP chairman also hinted on the plans of the state government to privatise the Buguma fish farm and banana farm, among others, so as to make them more viable.
He said that the state government had not abandoned the projects initiated by the previous administration, but was thinking on what to do with them.
Akawor maintained that the employment of 5,000 persons into the civil service was still ongoing, saying the government is only taking time to ensure that indigenes of the state are employed.
PH Airport Resumes Skeletal International Flight Operations
Skeletal flight operations have resumed at the international wing of the Port Harcourt International Airport, Omagwa.
This follows the lifting of the curfew that was imposed in the state by the Rivers State Government to check cases of insecurity in the state.
The Tide’s checks show that many of the airlines that operate international flights are yet to resume flight operations, even though the coast is clear for them to resume operations.
The Cronaux Airline, it was gathered, is the only airline at the moment that has fully resumed international flight.
Other airlines that operate at the international wing, like the Lufthansa Airline, Turkish Airline, and Ethiopian Airline are yet to resume operations.
The Acting Head of Corporate Affairs, FAAN, Kunle Akinbode, confirmed the resumption of international flight operations at the airport, last Friday, saying the international wing is now open for international airlines to operate.
He explained that the curfew that was imposed in the state delayed the resumption of international flights operations, even when issues of Covid-19 standard protocols had been addressed.
“Now that the curfew is over and the international wing is open for flight operations, it is left for each of the airlines to work out its own schedule for operations.
“It will not be the duty of the airport management to sort things out for them and know when to resume. I know that some have started. Lufthansa has said they will resume next month, August”, Akinbode said.
The Tide reports that the international wing of the Port Harcourt Airport had been shut since the Covid-19 lockdown, and did not reopen when other international airports in Lagos, Abuja and Kano among others reopened for international operations.
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