Since its construction 42 years ago, a test run to check the functionality of the Onitsha port was initiated yesterday by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
The exercise saw the movement of containers from Onne Port in Rivers State to the Onitsha River Port in Anambra State and beyond.
According to Dr. George Moghalu, the Managing Director, NIWA, he elucidated that aim of the test run basically is to explore the potentials of inland water transportation, among other reasons.
A statement on Thursday in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital, by NIWA’s Acting General Manager (Corporate Affairs), Jibril Darda’u, quoted Moghalu as saying it is meant to ensure that the Onitsha port is fully functional after 42 years of its construction.
He said: “The aim of the test-run is to break the jinx and encourage partnership with the Barge Operators Association, that it is possible to move containers successfully from Onne to Onitsha by water and Onitsha to Onne as well. This is the first phase of the test-run, and the second phase will be from the Lagos ports to Onitsha River port and from Onitsha to Lagos”
Furthermore, he stated that NIWA is giving exemplary leadership to investors that moving goods on the waterways is economically viable and safe so that investors can key in and benefit from the potentials of water transportation.
“It is also part of my commitment, since assumption of duty, to ensure that the Onitsha port is fully functional after 42 years of construction and commissioning in 2012 but not put to use. The exercise is in preparation for the full operation of the port, which will begin by the first quarter of 2021.
“There is no doubt that the full operation of the river port will boost economic activities in Anambra State and other Southeast states, create jobs and wealth for our teeming youths, reduce bottlenecks in clearing goods and save money wasted in transporting containers from different ports to the Southeast, decongest our ports in Lagos and reduce the pressure on our roads.”