Maersk shipping company has responded to the news making rounds in the social media, insinuating it has commenced a full shipping operation at Onitsha Inland Port.
The news broke out early Wednesday morning as a pic of the dockyard being commissioned, and shipment schedule from Maersk showing China – Onitsha destination surfaced online.
“We took a walk at the Onitsha pilot port after it was commissioned today. The port is at its full function. Such a pleasant sight! Congrats to the importers,” a Twitter user wrote.
Series of tweets praising the development followed, as many others joined the preaching.
“So Onitsha Port was commissioned yesterday & you can now send a container from China to Onitsha without going through Lagos? And some of have been using it for months but kept quiet? Why do people refuse to talk when good things happen in Nigeria,” Dr. Joe Abah wrote.
However, in response to inquiry about their operations in Onitsha Inland Port, Maersk said in an email response to Tekedia that the news has been inaccurate.
“There are some inaccurate news reports going around as we are not calling at Onitsha port with our vessels as this is not operationally feasible due to the draft of our vessels.
“We do however offer a through bill product for our customers in which cargo discharged at Onne is trucked to the Clarion Depot in Onitsha, which is roughly opposite the Niger River,” Kerry Rosser, Maersk Africa Communication Manager told Tekedia.
The Onitsha Inland Port was rehabilitated and commissioned in 2012, in view to accommodate vessels and ease Lagos Ports of congestion. But the port is yet to commence full operation since then.
Last month, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said the commencement of shipping operations is targeted at the first quarter of 2021. NIWA’s Area Manager at Onitsha Area Office, Mrs. Queen Uba said operations at the port have been on hold due to the ongoing concession process, but NIWA is ready for its operations as soon as the process is complete.
“NIWA has put in place all necessary things for effective operation of the port and we are just waiting for the completion of the concession process. While we are waiting for the completion of the concession process, the management has entered into agreement with Connect rail Services Limited to kick start the lifting of goods from the port to other places in the country,” she said.
Onitsha Inland Port was built under the administration of President Shehu Shagari in 1983 and since then, it has been lying fallow and completely under-utilized until 2012 when it was rehabilitated and commissioned by former President Goodluck Jonathan.
It is hoped that NIWA will live up to the challenge and facilitate shipping operations in the port that will spur its activities beyond a clarion depot for trucking cargoes.