By Ifeyinwa Obi
The House of Representatives Committee on Marine Transport has set in motion, legislative processes that will facilitate development of new port facilities in the country.
Chairman of the committee, Ifeanyi Ugwuanyi, who disclosed this while addressing maritime journalists in Abuja, stated that the development of a new port will put an end to the perennial congestion that has bedeviled ports in Lagos over the year.
According to Ugwuanyi,Â developing a new port is imperative because the existing ones are inadequate both for today and for future projections, adding that the committee has charged the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) to promptly come up with a comprehensive, short, medium and long term port development plan.
â€œTo put an end to this congestion, we are pushing for development of new port facilities. This is because it is clear that the existing facilities are inadequate, not just for today, but also for future projections. Indeed, we have charged the NPA to promptly come up with a comprehensive, short, medium and long-term port development plan.â€ Ugwuanyi declared.
Towards the end of the third quarter of 2008, Lagos ports experienced a terrible vessels and cargo congestion for several months, which almost grounded port operations as containers filled available spaces in the terminals, leaving no space for discharge of new ones. This resulted in the setting up of a joint ad-hoc committee of both the marine transport and customs and excise committees of the House of Representatives, charged to address the congestion.
However, investigations revealed that the global economic crises was largely responsible for the eventual decongestion of the ports as container import took a plunge.
This underscores the inadequacy in the existing ports that have been encroached by population growth, leaving no space for expansion.Already, the federal government is working on developing new river ports at Onitsha, Idah Dekina, Lokoja and Baro in Niger State.However, construction works is being stalled by issues ranging from fraud to lack of access road to the port site.