Presidential Goodluck Jonathan has reaffirmed the Federal Government order banning private jetties from receiving ocean-going vessels and midstream discharge of cargoes.
Jonathan barred his mind in the issue, while commissioning some projects at the Federal Lighter Terminal (FLT) and Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT), Onne Port Complex, Rivers State recently.
The projects are: berths 4, 5 and 6 at the FOT; internal road network; comprehensive water network at the FLT; FLT 4 jetty; and the West African Container Terminal (WACT) Jetty.
The government, according to the President will no longer condone security threat and huge loss of revenue to the practice of midstream and private jetties discharge of import and export cargoes.
He reminded consignees that all cargoes imported into the country must be discharged at the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) designated terminals.
Jonathan expressed optimism of investments and employment opportunities in the Onne Oil and Gas Free Zone.
He said that the port complex had become one of the largest single and fastest growing free zone in the world dedicated to oil and gas.
The President said it was his hope that the zone would boost employment opportunities for the youths in the Nigeria delta and by extension grant credence to the genuine effort the Federal Government and indeed the present administration to develop the Niger Delta region.
“With today’s commissioning, Onne Port has attained the status of oil and gas free zone making it the hub of oil and gas related activities in West and Central African sub-region’’, he said.
Jonathan explained that what was being witnessed in Onne Port Complex would leave no one in doubt of the genuine efforts of government to partner with the private sector to develop the nation’s ports infrastructure.
According to him, this also underscored that the public private partnership is yielding the expected result, adding that government would continue to encourage all genuine investors in its collective effort to reposition the nation’s economy to be among the leading economy in the world.
Also speaking, the Minister of Transport, Alhaji Yusuf Suleiman, said that the Ministry would partner with other agencies of government to eliminate the unwholesome practice of midstream discharge of cargoes.
Suleiman said that the nation’s ports could accommodate any vessel carrying cargo into the country, adding that there is need to emphasise the ban on midstream discharge of cargoes in the nation’s waters.
The Minister said that the benefits accruable from the projects executed by the Ministry of Transport, NPA in partnership with INTELS Nigeria Limited and the WACT within the Niger Delta region could not be over-emphasised, especially in the area of employment generation.
Suleiman said that over 48,000 jobs had been created directly and indirectly through the development projects, adding that other benefits include direct foreign investment where over 140 companies operating at the Onne Oil and Gas Zone through the upgrade of port facilities to international standards.
In promoting the administration of Cabotage, the Minister said that government would facilitate and encourage private initiative in ship building capabilities.
“We will direct our agencies to patronise indigenous shipyards for vessels, boats and other crafts requirement,’’ Suleiman said, adding that the agencies would only be allowed to procure such vessels or boats that could not be built locally.
Speaking, the Chairman, NPA Board of Directors, Chief Tony Anenih, said that the development of berths 4, 5 and 6 by NPA and INTELS at the Federal Ocean Terminal (FOT|) is in response to upsurge in maritime operations at the Onne Port Complex.
Anenih said that there is increasing need to serve the oil and gas sector in the West and Central Africa sub-region.
The NPA Chairman recalled that the FOT was initially conceived in the late 1970’s to facilitate bulk cargo and container operations from mining and petrochemical industries within the Niger Delta region and its bordering communities.
He noted that the Federal Government awarded the contract for the development of the FOT to a Dutch firm, Messrs Adrian Volker, which commenced the construction of both Berths 1 and 2 in 1979.
Regrettably, however, work was abandoned in 1983 due to paucity of funds, according to Anenih.
He said that with increased activities in the oil and gas sector of the economy, the then existing FLT became over-stretched, necessitating the urgent development and use of the FOT.
Anenih said that in 1993, the NPA sought and obtained approval from the Federal Government for Messrs INTELS Nigeria Limited to complete the abandoned berths 1 and 2, measuring 500 metres length of quay wall, which were executed through public private partnership based on the principle of amortization.
An additional 250-metre Berth 3 was executed by INTELS to boost logistics support for the Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) and other deep offshore explorations’’, Anenih said.
He said that arrangements for the development of berths 4, 5 and 6 projects between the NPA and INTELS was entered into in June 2007.
Anenih said the new berths which were L-shaped in nature had a total length of 820 metres with a dedicated heavy lift platform, adding that the design is particularly unique in that it utilizes front and back diaphragm walls for lateral support unlike the conventional sheet/horizontal piles.
According to him, the berth has a depth of 12 metres capable of accommodating large ocean-going vessels.
Anenih explained that the internal road network with cumulative length of 4.5 kilometres links the FLT to the FOT for administrative and cargo delivery efficiency, noting that the road would serve as a network to complement the on-going main access control in the Oil and Gas Free Zone.
He said that the water treatment plant connects eight boreholes to the treatment plant with a capacity of 6,000 cubic metres of treated water.
“Similarly, the water is distributed through water hydrants to vessels. It also has the feature to supply water for fire fighting purposes through dedicated hydrants’’, Anenih said.
He assured that the projects would be of immense benefits to port users in Onne Port Complex in particular and the West and Central Africa sub-region which the port serves for oil and gas activities.
Managing Director, Intels Nigeria Limited, Mr. Gabriele Volpi, in his vote of thanks, explained that besides the company’s investment profile to date of about $4.2billion on various developmental projects, including those done in partnership with the Federal Government to maintain the highest standard of port infrastructure and service delivery to its clients, over 11,000 direct jobs and 48,000 indirect jobs have so far been created in its operations.
Volpi said that it is the result of foresight, determination and total confidence in the Nigerian Economy that drives Intels to commit resources in partnership with the NPA and other agencies to the development of the ports facilities.
The Intels boss pledged the company’s total commitment to the growth of the Niger Delta, which, according to him, is of particular significance to himself and family as fellow Nigerian citizens after 34 years of selfless productive contribution to the country’s development and success.