09 February 2016, Calabar – The Eastern Ports management has solicited the support of its relevant stakeholders in ensuring safety at the port for business to thrive.
General Manager (GM), Eastern Ports, Mr. Joshua Asanga, made the appeal at the weekend when he embarked on a working visit to Calabar Port, which is under his jurisdiction.
Asanga said there was need for adequate utilisation of the Calabar port as a business hub for states in the North Eastern flank of Nigeria, and countries bordering Nigeria in the North.
Asanga also stated that the Calabar port facilities are regularly patronised by local crafts, and light vessels from countries like Cameroon, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea and Sao Tome and Principe and other countries.
He said proactive measures have been taken to assess the state of facilities and consult staff, terminal operators, relevant stakeholders and security agencies on safe use of Calabar port for business and commerce.
Asanga promised that Calabar port would achieve its maximum potential during his tenure including the commencement of the dredging of the
Calabar port channel for utilisation by larger sea-going vessels.
He said: “The initiative is basically to synergise and identify with all government agencies including terminal operators and other stakeholders that interact with the port in the course of their business.
“We cannot think in isolation. We have to work together and in concert, exchange information and of course, it is important to know the people you work with sometimes so that we work better.
“That is why we met with terminal operators, management of Calabar ports and staff, the Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, and the state Controller, Nigeria Immigration Service.
“We also interacted with coastal passenger service operators, the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Calabar Free Trade Zone’s management. These are government agencies and agencies known to government.
“We do not want anything to go wrong that we could have avoided. We will collaborate; we will exchange information, show commitment and live up to our responsibilities.
“The massage we are taking back is that, these are days of working together; the more we work together we can achieve more and surmount challenges. It is a team work.’’
Speaking during the visit, the Calabar Port Manager, Mr. Oluseyi Ogundele, said the port was established in 1969 when the federal government took over a privately run port, without adequate facilities, and handed it to the NPA.
Ogundele said since then, the port has evolved from a purpose-built general cargo port to a multi-purpose port, delving into liquid bulk and refined petroleum cargo.
He said: “System has consistently presented challenges in the area of operational and environmental adaptability.”
Continuing he said: “We have been able to resolve a number of these issues most critical to our operations. Passenger service is running smoothly at the shoreline terminal. Ports debt is comparatively the least in all the ports.
“Public power supply has been restored and only recently, the heavy traffic gridlock along the port access road has been contained among others.’’
At the state headquarters of the Nigeria Immigration Service (NIS), Asanga appealed for more formalised operation of passenger crafts, and movements of passenger and migrant movement at Calabar port.
Asanga, told the State Comptroller of Immigrations Service, Mrs. Funke Adeuyi that the collaboration was important since the port also ran coastal passenger service operations to other countries within the Gulf of Guinea.
He appealed for a safe port and security within Nigeria’s maritime domain based on recent experiences when some migrants from neighbouring countries stayed for about five days at Calabar port facility.
“In Nigeria, we have more of cargo ports except Calabar where we also have passenger movement. Boat operations are bound to increase .We must work together in this area. It is important for us to know how many people are on the manifest from the originating ports. We hope that these operations, trade movements are more formalised.
“The passenger crafts should be bigger to make it easier for us and the security agencies. We should cooperate more at this level, share information, be proactive,” Asanga said.
Adeuyi, who represented by the Comptroller-General, Mr. Martin Abeshi lauded the NPA for providing operational facilities for the NIS activities and movement of passengers at the Calabar port channel.
Adeuyi stated that a lot of things were required on ground to assist in proper management of arrivals and departures.
He said health facilities in the port should be upgraded to meet the challenges such that were experienced when no fewer than 697 immigrants arrived the port in December 2015
“The facilities should be able to take care of passengers that are distressed. The port health unit should be able to offer them stability after stress on the high seas until they are able to seek help elsewhere.”
She praised the port management for the transfer of the coastal passenger service operations from the Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority jetty to Shoreline terminal at the port.
“This was a big relief to us in the management of the recent immigrant crisis when about 697 immigrants were contained for about five days in December last year. We appreciate you for tolerating us because the jetty was not meant for such service. Although we are trained to manage migrants no matter how large, you assisted us to get over the challenges.”