The Federal government has finally handed over the Onitsha River Port to the Concessionaire, Elysium Consortium.
The Managing Director, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, handed over the facility to the MD/CEO of Universal Elysium Consortium Ltd, Dr George Nwangwu, at a brief ceremony in Abuja at the weekend.
Dr George Moghalu, said the experience gained through the concessioning of the Onitsha River Port will speed up other port concessioning process in the country. And that the authority had “learnt a lot”
The concession is for 30 years and the deal will see the FG earn N4 billion from the concessionaire at the first instance and another N23bn over the 30 years concession period.
The Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) midwifed the concession process.
He also said when the concessionaire begins operations, the impact on the economy will be huge.
The managing director talked about how several trailers will be taken off the road, several jobs created and it will also lead to the decongesting of the Apapa and Tin Can Inland Ports.
He said statistics have shown that about 60 per cent of the containers that arrive at the Nigerian ports get to the South East, adding that the Onitsha River Port will be profitable.
While lamenting on the time taken for the process to be completed, he said it was expected, being the first port to be concenssioned in the maritime sector.
”You cannot even quantify the challenges. First of all, you are doing something you haven’t done before.
As we speak, Onitsha River Port successful concession, is the first in the maritime industry. So, the first time is certainly different.
If by the time we do the second, third and fourth ones like we have on the pipeline, they are certainly not going to take as much time this first one took because we have learnt on the job.
But if it is whether we have gained a lot of experience, we have. Whether we have confidence in the process, we have. As to whether expectations are high, expectations are high and we are going to be guided.
And when you are doing this type of thing, you must do it properly in line with international best practice.
PPP arrangements on concessioning processes is not a Nigerian thing, it has international standard that must be followed because you can’t change the rules because we are involved,” Moghalu said.
He said Onitsha River Port is the first River Port concession and the expectations are very high, adding that the Oguta Port, Rivers State, might also be concessioned going forward.
Commenting, the MD/CEO of Universal Elysium Consortium Ltd, Dr George Nwangwu, said he’s committed to the contract.
“We will be operating from Onitsha but the barges will be coming from Lagos, Warri, Onitsha and Port Harcourt.
He said he expects the federal government to comply with its own sets of responsibilities because his company is willing to play by the terms of the contract.
Dr. George added that if the channels are not designed, the barges cannot move.