The Federal House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Rivers Port Complex, Port Harcourt, is safe and secure for investors to do business .Chairman of the Committee, Hon Datti Garaba Muhammad, stated this in Port Harcourt last Tuesday during an interactive session with the management of the port at its Basket House complex.
The House Committee was in the port for a familiarisation visit and oversight function of the port and its terminal operators.
Muhammad noted that Rivers Port Complex was booming with maritime activities, thereby accruing high revenue to the Federal Government.
He said that for the past six months, there was no longer the issue of pirate attacks on sea in the port complex.
“ Rivers Port Complex is now safer for investors to do business as there is no longer attack on vessels for over six months now,” he said.
The Chairman noted that the improved security networks in the port had increased container traffic and attracted more ship owners and importers to the port.
He told the management of the port led by its Port Manager, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, that the Federal Government was working tirelessly to revamp the port to attract more investors.
The chairman said that its oversight functions include overseeing the NPA and the terminal operators doing business in the various ports across the nation.
He said: “We are here to oversee the port, we have visited NPA headquarters, Tin Can Island, Apapa Port, Onne Port and some terminal operators to ascertain the level of compliance”.
On lack of tugboats for the port to carry out effective operations, the committee said the Federal Government would look into the absence of such boats and approve the purchase of tugboats to enhance the port operations.
Muhammad said the committee wanted Rivers Port to be revamped and bounce back to maritime activities as it is done in the past.
Earlier in his welcome address, the Port Manager, Rivers Port Complex, Engr. Yunusa Ibrahim Anji, said that container traffic had improved in the port compared to 2018 port statistics.
The manager said in 2019, its traffic was 1870,379 while in 2018, its level of traffic was 1723,169.
He told the committee that since his assumption, there has been no problem of attacks on sea going vessels in the ports.
On the security, the manager said the port secured the service of the Nigerian Navy and the marine police to patrol the port waterways to curb any act of insecurity within the complex.
He mentioned lack of tugboats, pilot cutters, accommodation for the pilots and legal issue with BUA terminal operators as some of challenges at the port.
By: Chinedu Wosu
Navy Nabs Six Rice Smugglers In A’Ibom
The Nigerian Navy Command has arrested six suspected rice smugglers in Akwa Ibom State.
The Navy Forward Operating Base (FOB) also impounded 1,439 bags of smuggled rice between December 2019 and January 2020.
This was made known by the Commanding Officer, Forward Operating Base, in Ibaka, Mbo Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State, Peter Yilme, in a statement last Wednesday.
Yilme said the suspects and the items impounded had been handed over to the Nigeria Customs Service in Mbo Local Government Area of the State.
The commanding officer, however, said some of the suspects escaped on sighting the Navy gunboats.
He said the command would remain steadfast in fighting illegalities on the waterways in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff, Ibok Ibas.
Yilme said the arrests were made along the Unyenge, Effiat, and Mendoro creeks between December 2019 and January by Navy officers and men on routine patrol in their gunboats.
“I handed over 1,439 bags of rice and six suspects to the Superintendent of Customs, Garuba Hassan, in line with the directives of the Chief of Naval Staff.
“We are committed to rid the waterways of all forms of illegalities.
“I commend the untiring efforts of the officers and ratings in ensuring the mandate and tasks of the Base are achieved.
“I also appreciate the immense efforts of the Chief of Naval Staff, for providing the necessary platform and logistics support for the Base to carry out its operations,” Yilme said.
Confessing to the crime, a suspect from Bayelsa, Wede John, said that he usually transported fish and was carrying rice for the first time when he was arrested.
“I don’t know the owner of the rice and didn’t know that rice was loaded into the boat. This is my first time of carrying rice.
“I usually transport crayfish and dry fish to Oron Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom. I was carrying rice from Bakassi to Unyenge when I was arrested,” he said.
Also speaking, a suspect and boat driver, Awagoyi Philip, said the owner of the rice promised to pay him N20,000 for carrying the rice but that he was yet to collect the money.
“I drive boats and I was paid to drive the boat that carried the rice. This is my first time. The owner of the rice promised to pay me N 20,000 and is aware that I have been arrested”, he said.
Reps Plan Security Summits On Ports
The House of Representatives Committee on Ports and Harbours says it will soon organise a nationwide security summit to tackle acts of insecurity in the nation’s ports.
The committee also decried the spate of piracy in the nation’s waterways and abduction of crew members of vessels coming to Eastern ports.
Chairman, House of Reps Committee on Ports and Harbours, Hon Datti Garba Muhammad, disclosed this to The Tide during an interview in Port Harcourt shortly after a visit to the Rivers Port Complex.
Muhammad said the summit would focus on the best possible ways to tackle insecurity in the nation’s waterways and reduce abduction of crew members in the ports.
Although the chairman did not say when the summit would take place, he condemned the act of piracy in the industry, saying the act had scared away some foreign investors, vessel owners and lowered the revenue accrued to the Federal Government.
He insisted that the committee wanted the Rivers Port Complex to revamp for more maritime activities and attract investors to the sector.
The chairman commended the management of the port, saying the port is now safer to do business as the issue of pirate attacks on vessels is now a thing of the past in the complex.
According to him, the safety and the working environment in the port complex will generate more revenue to the government.
“Rivers Port is safer for investors to patronise; no reports of attacks on sea vessels going to the complex for over six months now”, he said.
Describing Rivers Port Complex as à colonial port, Muhammad said the committee would want the complex to be competitive, attract investors and yield more revenue to the government.
Stories by Chinedu Wosu
Piracy: Seafarer Wants FG To Equip Navy, Marine Police
A Port Harcourt based seafarer, Onmonya Udeh, has appealed to the Federal Government to equip the Nigerian Navy and the Marine Police to tackle piracy in the nation’s waterways.
Udeh lamented that pirates were armed with more sophisticated weapons than the Navy and the Marine police, thereby posing serious threats to the lives of mariners and passengers.
Udeh spoke to The Tide yesterday in Port Harcourt during a telephone interview on issues bothering maritime industry.
The mariner said over 121 crew members were kidnapped in 2019 across the Gulf of Guinea by suspected sea pirates.
He called on the Navy and Marine Police to ensure regular patrol of the creeks, channels and all the waterways in the region to protect lives and property.
The seafarer appealed to the government to equip Navy with adequate gunpower to confront the sea robbers that are posing threats to the creeks and waterways in the region.
He said marine companies were scared to operate in the region due to the negative attitude of the criminals who terrorized the waterways.
Udeh said the attack and abduction of vessel owners and marine companies had created unemployment and even forced companies to relocate to a safer environments such as Lagos and neighbouring countries.
The mariner admonished the youth to shun acts inimical to the socio-economic growth of the region, but embrace positive life style that would encourage industrialization.
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