THE REVIVAL OF SAPELE SEAPORT: A
“SOS” MESSAGE TO GOVERNOR OBOREVWORI
~ Onajite Malcolm Tagbarha, (FHNR)
There is no gainsaying the significance of locating sea ports close to the sea where sea vessels, mainly ships brings in – import and takes out – export goods from one country to another country.
In Nigeria, sea ports are managed by the Nigeria Ports Authority, (NPA), which usually has facilities where ships can dock and transfer people or cargoes to or from the land. These sea ports ought to be located in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria due to its obvious proximity to the Atlantic Ocean which naturally functions as a medium where goods are solely transported to and from Nigeria.
The Sapele Sea Port which is unarguably one of the most strategically located sea ports in the Niger Delta region, has the biggest container Jetty in Nigeria. It also has the deepest fresh water in West Africa.
Growing up in the ancient City of Sapele – the land of my birth, with her functional Seaport, which acted as a hub that naturally boosted the activities of the very popular Africa Timber and Plywood Industry, (AT&P), and other commercial businesses and industrial activities in the city, I learnt that Sapele and Oghara, depended largely on the functionality of the sea ports. And between these two towns as at then, they had over 16 industries, such as Okpe Trading Company, Oghene Rubber Factory, D.C.C Rubber Factory, New Independent Rubber Factory, which was later named K.B Rubber Factory, F.G Spiropolus Rubber Factory, Nagro Rubber Factory, Pamol Rubber Factory, Rodco Rubber Latex, JA-Thomas Rubber Factory, J.K Rubber Factory, etal.
However, It is surprising that all these factories have either faded into oblivion, or strangulated to death by the huge costs of transporting by road, their finished products to and from Lagos Ports, for export at obviously high costs, which consequently made their end products to be uncompetitive in the international markets.
It would interest you to know that the reverse would have been the case should Sapele Port function as a commercial port to boost the commercial and industrial activities within the city and its environs.
The importance of developing the waterways of any nation which depends solely on sea ports, cannot be overemphasized. More so, in this instance, the refusal of the Federal Government to dredge the 6.4 meters draft of the escravos bar in Delta State in the past 25 years has totally contributed to the collapse of the ports in the area. The conversion of the Sapele Port facilities to Naval Training Base has further led to the total collapse of Sapele commercial and industrial activities. The resultant effects is the unprecedented high rate of unemployment, crimes and other social vises. Case in point, is the increase in the rate of Internet fraudsters, prostitution, and Yahoo plus, better known as ritual killings, in the city. Young men and women now resort to quick ways of getting cash instead of believing in the dignity of labour.
If the Sapele seaport channel at Orere is re-opened, dredged and utilized, the river Niger – Lokoja channel along with the Onitsha mini ports will be serviced by the Sapele Sea port, and commercial and industrial activities within this region will be boosted immensely, thereby providing massive employment, that subsequently reduce the rate of crime and other social vices.
Since there are a litany of seaports in the Niger Delta region which should be adequately utilized in order to save the nation from the present quagmire, I am using this medium to draw the attention of the listening excessive local content, street credible governor of Delta State, Rt Hon Sheriff Oborevwori, to as a matter of urgency, call on the Federal Government of Nigeria, to direct the Ministry of transport to open up the neglected Sea ports in the Niger Delta region, most especially the Sapele, Koko, Warri, and Bayelsa Ports for business, in order to decongest the over burdened Lagos Ports and consequently solve the traffic gridlock, currently bedeviling the city. In the same vain, the government should direct importers and exporters to take their goods to the ports in the Niger Delta region.
More so, since you have commenced your promise of give facelifts to Warri – Effurun and its environs through the established Warri, Uvwie, and Environs Development Agency, (WUEDA), an equally commensurate attention should be given to Sapele, due to its strategic importance and relevance to Warri, Delta Central region, and the overall development of the State in general.
It is an open secret that the nation is presently groaning over the congestion of the Lagos sea ports, which has hitherto been causing heavy traffic gridlock in the city, thereby causing untold hardship to Nigerians.
It is in this connection that the Sapele Sea Ports and other sea ports in the region, which have the capacity to substantially decongest the Lagos Ports, needs to be revived and adequately utilized.
This is my observation as a young man who was born in Sapele and grew up at different times in the tripod of Sapele, Warri and Ughelli Local Government Areas, respectively.
May God bless Sapele Local Government Area!
May God bless Delta State!
May God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria!
~ Malcolmatically Speaking
Malcolm Onajite Tagbarha, FHNR, a multi-award winning writer, author, certified United States Agency for International Development, (USAID/International Republican Institute, IRI) campaign trainer and National Legislative Policy Advocate and strategic political communicator, Special Assistant, SA to former Delta State Governor, Sen.(Dr.) Ifeanyi Okowa, State Publicity Secretary, Coalition for Media Politics and Governance, CMPG, State Secretary, PDP New Generation, Delta State Chapter. He was a member of the Media and Field Operations Committees respectively of the Delta State PDP Campaign Council.
He is the Pioneer Chief Press Secretary to Sapele LGA Council, and a fellow of the prestigious Institute of Human and Natural Resources.