Vast business opportunities have opened to Nigerians at the Calabar Port, with the maiden voyage of MV Boreas, a container vessel by Marguisa Shipping Line from Madrid, Spain to the ECM Terminals.
Marguisa Shipping Line, which had an arrangement with ECM Terminals Limited, a concessionaire of multi-purpose terminal ‘B’ of Calabar Port in Cross River State, southern Nigeria, has opened the flood gates for more vessels to berth at the Calabar port.
The General Manager of ECM Terminals Limited, Diran Akorede, said that the shipping company would be berthing ocean going vessels every fortnight at the Calabar Port, an arrangement, which he noted would translate to boundless economic opportunities for Nigerians.
“The container vessels, which will be calling the terminal every two weeks would benefit terminal operators and the Nigerian Government as well as give a big relief to the shippers. The most important thing is that the economy of the Cross River and the entire catchment area will improve”.
“There is also going to be employment opportunities, that is, a lot of indirect employment will be generated. A lot of truckers will be coming in, hoteliers, food vendors, the banks and others will all benefit from it besides the direct employment opportunities such as the 250 dock workers we have currently, which is expected to rise in a few months,” the General Manager stated.
He averred that with the efforts of the government to de congest the ports in Lagos and Rivers States, Calabar port would be the preferred hub for clients in northern Nigeria and parts of south-east regions.
Although ECM Terminals opened its gates to different kinds of cargo vessels ranging from liquid to bulk, dry bulk, containers and general cargo.
According to Akorede, a few container vessels berthed at the ECM Terminals after operations commenced at the Calabar port and with the evolution in the cargo shipping sector, worldwide the need for the channel to be dredged became of priority concern.
He stated, “shipping has evolved globally as most companies prefer larger vessels that cannot navigate the current approach draft of the Calabar Channel, which is 6.4 metres at high waters. The agreement we reached with the Nigerian Government in 2007 was to have the channel dredged to a depth of 9.4 metres”
“What we need right now is for the Nigerian Government to complete the dredging of the Calabar Channel. This port, can comfortably serve northern Nigeria and parts of southern Nigeria besides serving as a corridor for other countries like Chad and Niger Republics,” he further said.
The General Manager also urged the Ministry of Works and Housing to expedite action on the reconstruction of the Calabar-Itu, Calabar-Ikom Highways to effectively accommodate heavy duty trucks.
Akorede noted that prior to the privatization of the Calabar Port, the Nigerian Ports Authority introduced a 30% rebate due to the channel limitation.
“The Nigerian Government recently introduced a 10 percent rebate for all ports in southern Nigeria, which Marguisa Shipping Line did not benefit from due to the condition attached to the rebate.
“Before Calabar port was concessioned, there was a rebate of 30 percent to encourage shipping lines to berth in Calabar due to the channel limitation. But once the terminal was privatized, the rebate was removed. Since the NPA has yet to fulfill the dredging, it would be better for the rebate to be reintroduced,” he said.
The General Manager commended commended the management of the Nigerian Port Authority led by Hadiza Bala Usman for collaborating with ECM Terminals and tackling several challenges within the Calabar port.
He urged the Managing Director to sustain the achievements recorded so far by dredging the channel.