The Transportation Minister, Hon. Rotimi Amaechi, has described development of river ports in some parts of the country as waste of public funds.
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Amaechi explained that this was because such river ports were not viable.
Speaking in a television programme the Minister gave an indication that this was why Baro river port was yet to begin operation about two years after its commissioning by the federal government.
He said as far as the lower River Niger was not dredged, no bigger vessel can attempt sailing to Baro port.
Amaechi identified other river ports which he described as waste of public funds as Onitsha, Baro, Lokoja and Oguta.
According to Ships & Ports which monitored the interview, the Minister explained, “the reason is that for you to have those river ports functional, you must have to dredge River Niger. For now, even if you dredge, it is still 2.5 to 3 metre draft, which determines the vessel that can go there and the minimum you can have is a six-metre vessel. There is absolutely no vessel that will come in there at 2.5 to 3 metres draft.
“The idea when the Baro port was concessioned is that you pick up a cargo maybe in Warri or Port Harcourt because Lagos is too far, and put it on a barge and move it to Baro. But how many times will the barge be able to move those cargoes to Baro?
“For the man who imports through Lagos or Port Harcourt, if he puts it on a train, he arrives the same day, and there is no issue of insecurity unlike the man who has taken the cargo from Port Harcourt seaport to Baro by barge.
“They wanted the port constructed, so we completed it. My responsibility is to construct a Baro port and I have constructed it. As Minister, I did engage the public that these are the problems we will face when we finish this Baro port. First Nigeria does not produce anything in the first place so what are you going to transport? If we make the Apapa seaport very efficient, then we don’t even have enough cargo.”