The Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) has flagged the construction of the 4.5-kilometer ‘D’ access road at the Federal Ocean Terminal in the Onne Port Complex to facilitate the transportation of cargo in and out of the port.

The 4.5-kilometer road, which would be constructed with street lighting and other additional facilities, was to be completed within 10 months.

Mohammed Bello-Koko, director of NPA, who flagged construction in Onne during his first port visit on Friday, said the road was part of the Phase 4B port expansion plan awarded to the Deep Offshore.

According to him, the cost of the project was part of the total port remediation that was awarded a long time ago but was shelved for some reason.

“The road is the main arterial road to the Onne Port and we have witnessed a major increase in freight and other activities. We felt it was time to ask the contractor to return to the site. This will facilitate the transfer to the port. While we complain about the roads outside the port, which is beyond our remit, we want to make sure the roads in the port are in good condition,” he said.

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Earlier before the flagging out, Bello-Koko also ordered three maritime vessels, including a lead cutter, a security patrol boat and a security boat in accordance with the NPA mandate to provide maritime side infrastructure to support port operations.

“We are doing these things to encourage companies to move to the eastern ports to reduce congestion in the ports of Lagos by ensuring that the eastern ports are functional,” he said.

About the export processing plant of the West African Container Terminal (WACT), one of the terminal operators in Onne, he said it is part of the NPA strategy to work with the federal government to improve exports of non-oil products.

“The export terminal has the capacity to accept, arrange and bag exports. It also containerizes the cargo before sending the goods to the ship for export. It helps reduce costs and time wasted for exporters, but it also ensures that the products are exported fresh in accordance with international best practices,” he said.

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Speaking about the security challenge facing businesses in Onne Port, the NPA chief said the authority is working with the Nigerian Navy to improve security along the waterways.

He assured that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has also deployed security assets under the Deep Blue Project that would be used for offshore patrols.

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“We are also working to fence off all open spaces in the port that result in attacks on ships or enchantment of the port properties by communities. We will ensure that the contract is awarded as soon as possible,” he added.

In terms of infrastructure, he said, there is a berth that needs to be repaired and payment is underway.

During the stakeholder interactive session in Onne Port, Kazeem Adebisi, President of the Shipping Trade Practitioners Association of Nigeria, Onne Chapter, appealed to NPA management to urge other government agencies to adhere to the Joint Entry Policy which is aimed at reducing ship delay and improving ship turnaround time.

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He complained about the delays experienced by charterers when their ships arrive in Onne late at night without officials from the service to board the ship for inspection.

Bello-Koko replied, pledging to contact the agencies that fail to comply with the ease of business order, which requires all agencies to board ships collectively for inspection.

About the dilapidated state of the main road to the port, he assured that the Ministry of Niger-Delta has started the road reconstruction.

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