Concessioning Of Onitsha River Port Suffers Setback Over Funding, Dredging


The hope for improved ease of doing business and trade facilitation in the South-East may have suffered setback as Concessionaire of the Onitsha River Ports, Universal Elison has raised an alarm over unfriendly interest rates being slammed by banks on acquisition of ocean going barges and tug boats and dredging of Lagos to Onitsha.

LEADERSHIP reports that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), had on April 20, 2023, announced the Concessioning of the Onitsha River Port, Anambra state to private concessionaire for 30 years.

According to NIWA, the concessioning would ease pressure on the government and attract revenue to it as the concessioning firm would be paying royalty to the government.

But, speaking at a stakeholders meeting with the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, in Lagos last week, representative of the Concessionaire, Bernadine Eloka, said the operators are facing funding challenges as banks were requesting 40 percent interest rate annually.
Eloka who is also the Chief Executive Officer of Clarion Bonded Terminal, lamented the bottlenecks in getting barge registration and licenses by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) adding that the process is fraught with bureaucracy and frustrations.

“Another challenge is funding, the Barge that is being funded now by one of our banks is at 40 per cent interest rate per annum. We began negotiations and we brought it down to 30% interest. The CVFF is yet to be distributed and I believe we should be one of the beneficiaries of that fund.

“We operate bonded terminals which involve movement of containers from Lagos, Port Harcourt, Onne, down to Onitsha. I am representing the concessionaire of Onitsha River Ports; the Universal Elison, we move an average of 500 containers in a month from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Onne, and we do this journey by road. We want the government to open up the dredging from Lagos to Onitsha and from Port Harcourt to Onitsha before the end of the year.”

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“We just finished building another ocean going barge and tug boat that we want to use to commence the Onne, Calabar and Port Harcourt operations. We are mapping out strategies for the dredging but it cannot be done without support of the Federal Government,” Eloka stated
She, however, stated that the concessionaire would want the Marine and Blue Economy Ministry to make registration and license registration for barges and tugs seamless and cost effective.

“Some of the issues we want the ministry to help in facilitating and making our operations seamless and cost effective is the issue of obtaining registration and licenses. We know that we cannot operate our barges without them being registered and licensed, but it has been very difficult, time consuming and frustrating procedures and processes.

“Another challenge is funding, the Barge that is being funded now by one of our banks is at 40 per cent interest rate per annum. We began negotiations and we brought it down to 30 per cent interest. The CVFF is yet to be distributed and I believe we should be one of the beneficiaries of that fund.

“We operate bonded terminals which involve movement of containers from Lagos, Port Harcourt, Onne, down to Onitsha.

“I am representing the concessionaire of Onitsha River Ports; the Universal Elison, we move an average of 500 containers in a month from Lagos, Port Harcourt and Onne, and we do this journey by road. We want the government to open up the dredging from Lagos to Onitsha and from Port Harcourt to Onitsha before the end of the year.

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God'swill Ofigo
Nigeria Blogger / Social Media Promoter/ Talent Manager/ Entertainer/ CEO OfyNaija Blog. WhatsApp: 0904709861

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