By Peter Okolie
The Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (ONICCIMA) on Wednesday commended the Federal Government for the maintenance dredging of River Niger from Ajaokuta to Onitsha.
Mr Dominic Ajibo, the Director-General of ONICCIMA, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Onitsha that the dredging would make Onitsha River Port a final destination from other sea ports across the country.
“We welcome the Federal Government’s intervention as it was in line with our chamber’s request to the minister during our annual lecture last year where he was represented by a top official in the ministry.
“At that lecture, which focused on improving the viability of the Eastern Ports, we drew the minister’s attention to the dormant Onitsha Port and the need to make it functional.
“No doubt, if the Onitsha River Port is made functional, it will benefit ONICCIMA members greatly as they could now use badges to bring their goods to Onitsha as Port of final destination from other sea ports across the country.
“What remains to be done soon as the river is dredged is to continuously maintain the route so that it remains passable all year round,” Ajibo said.
The director-general urged the Federal Government to provide adequate security along the waterways to make the efforts completely fruitful.
He said that failure to do so could make the whole exercise a total waste of resources like in the previous circumstances.
Ajibo expressed confidence that the affected coastal communities would benefit from increased economic activities along the river route.
He called for policy consistency on the part of the government to sustain the development.
The director-general urged the commission on ease of doing business to come up with practical and sustainable initiatives to address the unfriendly environment affecting business growth.
“Majority of our people are suffering terribly from hunger and diseases while inflation rate has remained high.
“The purchasing power of the average Nigerian is nothing to go by as our exchange rate remains high and unanticipated.
“Any effort by the Federal Government to ameliorate these conditions will be much appreciated,” he said.
NAN reports that the Federal Government rebuilt and inaugurated Onitsha River Port in 2012 but had not used it since then.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, while inaugurating the maintenance dredging on April 29, said that apart from reaping N36 billion in benefits, the project would enhance economic and social activities along coastal lines. (NAN)