Cartels frustrating Eastern ports revival efforts – Amaechi
Minister for Transportation, Hon. Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, has identified insecurity instigated by cartels who, he said, are bent on frustrating government efforts at reviving ports in the Niger Delta region as the cause of the moribund state of the eastern ports.
He disclosed that the cartels are unrelenting in their agenda to perpetually create an atmosphere of insecurity along the coastal states, so as to give impression of a volatile maritime environment across the region that would make the eastern ports very unattractive to the stakeholders.
Speaking at the 2nd Maritime Stakeholders interactive session in Warri, Delta the Minister, the Minister revealed that some of these cartels, including security personnel, had ensured that the security situation in the nation’s maritime territories remain unstable so that they could continue making gains at the expense of all Nigerians
Responding to stakeholders questions at the interactive session with the theme; “Implementation of Executive Order 1 (Ease of Doing Business in Secure Maritime Environment)”, Amaechi blamed the indigenes of the various coastal communities along the Niger Delta region for being responsible for the moribund activities at the various ports for allowing all sorts of criminal activities in their areas.
He however vowed to expose those involved in the cartel, describing it as a battle that must be fought till the end considering the economic importance of these ports to the growth of the region.
According to him, “All of you who spoke said the problem with the Eastern Ports is insecurity, every day I receive reports of insecurity in our waterways, it’s there in Lagos, but it’s worse here in the eastern ports”.
“Somebody said here that to leave Warri past 2:00pm that you are on your own, but I can hop into a vessel or a boat in Lagos and go to anywhere I want to go around there. You can’t do it here. Enter a boat from Port Harcourt to Bonny, alone, and see what will happen to you”.
“Nobody hates South-South, when I was governor I was thinking so, then I was thinking that the Yoruba are deliberately trying to make sure that the Lagos port works as against the eastern ports, but when I got to the office the first thing I did was to ask for the solution for the eastern ports to work”.
“I asked the Igbo, I asked the former governor of Anambra state, Peter Obi, why don’t his people want to import through Port Harcourt or the Warri ports, he gave me the same reason; it costs twice what it will take to import from Lagos, plus all the miscellaneous costs on the road, to import from Port Harcourt to Onitsha or Aba”.
“You need to do a petition to the president, not just a petition, you need to be activists. The president has approved a budget of $495 billion, two things, there are people in the system that are sabotaging that contract that will restore security in the water’.
“When I say in the system, I mean in the system. For now, I won’t say who they are in the system, until it gets out of control, until I see that it is getting extremely difficult, I will begin to name them, including the security personnel”.
“There are people who make billions of dollars from the water, they don’t want security in the water because if you secure the water all these levies will go. We have told you that we’ve met with the president and the president has given approval so you should ask why the approval has been given two years back and nothing is happening”.
“You must give us your statistics of how much you are losing, what the impact on the economy is so that we can convey them to the president so that we will see who are not allowing the job to go ahead because when they compromise the system, the system is unable to work,” he said.