Tanker drivers ground operations at Calabar port
Smooth operations have been grounded just when the south eastern port of Calabar is beginning to witness increased ship and cargo traffic as petroleum tanker drivers block access roads.
The articulated vehicles are indiscriminately parked on the port access route while waiting to load petroleum products from over 10 tank farms around and within the Export Processing Zone (EPZ).
According to reports, the situation has become so frustrating that port users, visitors and residents around the area spend between 30 minutes to two hours to get to the port or the EPZ, a journey of less 10 minutes.
Mr. Mike Ogodo, President of the Nigerian Shippers Association, said he had warned the government years back when the construction of the tank farms commenced.
He explained that he warned that it would hinder port operations when trucks starts coming to queue up to load petroleum products from these facilities, but the then government of Cross Rivers state did not heed the warning.
He warned that the situation may even get worse unless urgent steps are taken to address the issue.
Ogodo also called on the state Governor, Mr. Ben Ayade, to do something about the activities of truck drivers before they completed ground the little operations still going on at the port.
He observed that the multi million naira export business from the port and the little consignments coming through the port would varnish if the governor does not step in urgently.
Similarly, he also called on the governor to lead the efforts towards the dredging of the channel leading to the port on behalf of all port users as the benefit to the state and its indigenes is better imagined.
Calabar Port is strategically situated to serve the maritime and logistics needs of 16 Northern states, the commercial cities of Aba, Onitsha and Nnewi as well as the neighbouring states of the South-South region of the country.
Industry experts also noted the proximity of Calabar Port to Equatorial Guinea and Cameroun emphasises its stratergic importance as potential hub for the West African Oil and Gas logistics.
Despite spending over N32.1billion and awarding the contract for the dredging of Calabar port channel three times by various management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, the channel has still not gone beyond the 6.4 meter draught it stood at over a decade ago.