By Ephraim Oseji
Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) chieftain and former Delta State gubernatorial aspirant, Chief Sunny Onuesoke said he is in support of the call by Minister of Works and Housing, Babatunde Fashola for the diversion of cargoes from Lagos ports to other ports in Nigeria in order to ease the congestion in Apapa, Tin-Can Ports and Lagos environs.
The Minister, who spoke while on an inspection tour of the reconstruction work on the Apapa-Oshodi Expressway recently, noted that the Apapa port which was built in 1975 was no longer capable of handling the volume of imports and activities.
Fashola explained that it is time for some cargoes coming into Nigeria to be diverted to other ports than Apapa and Tin Can ports, hoping that diverting of these cargoes will not only help to decongest the ports, but also control traffic in the premier port city.
Reacting to Fashola’s advise while addressing media men on the sideline during Gas and Energy workshop in Lagos, Onuesoke said diversion of cargoes to other ports like that of Warri, Koko, Sapele and Port Harcourt among others will not only decongest Lagos ports and its environs, it will equally boost the economy of Nigeria and states where the ports are located.
He argued that Lagos ports will continue to be congested, mainly because nearly all of the cargoes traffic that should be handled by Warri, Koko, Sapele, Burutu and Port Harcourt ports get stemmed at Lagos, only to be transported by road to their various destinations across the country resulting in higher landing costs to importers, higher risks of loss and damage to cargo with higher insurance premium, heavy damage to inter-state highways with resulting short life span due to pressure from articulated vehicles, and loss of productive man-hours amongst other costs that are not quantifiable.
The PDP chieftain explained that diverting cargoes from Lagos ports to other ports will not only reverse their fortunes as sea-land interface structures, but will once again revive the once active but now dying market out-posts which the port towns of Warri, Sapele, Koko, Burutu and Port Harcourt were known for.
Onuesoke reiterated that Warri, Port Harcourt, Sapele and Burutu ports remain unique with enormous capacity yearning for development because of their strategic location in the heart of Nigeria’s oil and gas mineral deposits and their proximity to the Atlantic.
He adjudged the Deltan ports as ports of the future, which would fit in the country’s agenda of oil and gas industry deregulation as they would serve as the hub of modular oil refineries and marine transportation of petroleum products to neighbouring countries and beyond.
He pointed that if Federal Government can decongest Lagos ports, it will enrich Nigeria revenue generation hence ships that have been discharging cargoes in neighbouring West frican countries countries will now divert their cargoes to ports in Southern part of Nigeria.