The management of Easter Ports, the Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA) has appealed to relevant stakeholders to partner with it to make the ports safe for business and commerce within its domain. Mr Joshua Asanga, the General Manager Eastern Ports, made the appeal in Calabar Friday during a working visit to facilities under his control and relevant stakeholders at the Calabar Port. According to him there is need for more utilisation of the Calabar port as a business hub for states on the North Eastern flank of Nigeria as well as countries bordering Nigeria in the North. Asanga his administration has taken proactive measures to assess the state of facilities and consult staff, terminal operators, relevant stakeholders and security agencies on safe use of Calabar port for business and commerce.
He expressed the desire that Calabar port should achieve its maximum potentials including the commencement of the dredging of the Calabar Channel for utilisation by larger sea-going vessels within his tenure. ``The initiative is basically to synergise and identify with all government agencies including terminal operators and other stakeholders that interact with the port in the course of their business. ``We cannot think in isolation. We have to work together and in concert, exchange information and of course, it is important to know the people you work with sometimes so that we work better. ``That is why we met with terminal operators, management of Calabar ports and staff, the Comptroller of Nigeria Customs Service, and the state Controller, Nigeria Immigration Service. ``We also interacted with coastal passenger service operators, the Flag Officer Commanding, Eastern Naval Command, Calabar Free Trade Zone’s management.
These are government agencies and agencies known to government. ``We do not want anything to go wrong that we could have avoided. We will collaborate; we will exchange information, show commitment and live up to our responsibilities. ``The massage we are taking back is that, these are days of working together; the more we work together we can achieve more and surmount challenges. It is a team work,’’ Asanga said. Earlier, the Calabar Port Manager, Mr Oluseyi Ogundele, said the port was established in 1969 when the Federal Government took over the inadequate facility of the privately ran port and vested it on the NPA.
He said that the port had since then evolved from a purpose-built general cargo port to a multi-purpose port delving into liquid bulk and refined petroleum cargo. ``This dynamism of the Calabar port system has consistently presented challenges in the area of operational and environmental adaptability,’’ Ogundele said. He said that the port had some protracted challenges including issues that arose from the transfer of passenger service operations to Shoreline terminal and rising debt profile to power and road traffic congestion. ``We have been able to resolve a number of these issues most critical to our operations. Passenger service is running smoothly at the shoreline terminal. Ports debt is comparatively the least in all the ports. ``Public power supply has been restored and only recently, the heavy traffic gridlock along the port access road has been contained among others’’ he said.