By Innocent Orok
The Pro-chancellor of Imo State College of Education, HRM Eze ( Dr) Oliver Ohanwe, the traditional ruler of Ihim Isiama autonomous community in Okigwe Senatorial zone, Isiala Mbano Local Government Area of Imo State, has called on President Bola Tinunbu to give his approval to the development of the proposed Urashi Seaport in Imo State, South East Nigeria.
He said approval of the Urashi Seaport for immediate commencement of construction is the most crucial thing President Tinubu can do for the South East geopolitical zone which according to him has the three most important commercial and industrial towns (Onitsha, Aba and Nnewi) in the country.
Eze Ohanwe, who is also the CEO of Olinco Marine Travel Services, which have operational locations in all the ports in the country, lauded the governor of Imo State, Sen. Hope Uzodinma for initiating the seaport project, saying development of the seaport will address most of the economic problems of the South East geopolitical zone and hasten the economic growth of Nigeria.
Eze Ohanwe made the call when he was intimated of a proposed sensitization conference slated to hold in October to drum up support of relevant authorities for the development of the Urashi Seaport.
He said that the development of the seaport becomes necessary in view of the fact that about 90% of those who use port services aside the big multinational companies, are South East businessmen who, according to him, dominate the business of import and export of goods in the country.
His words: “The commercial cities are here in Onitsha (OMATA), Aba (Ariaria), Enugu and the rest of them, they are also the major importers.
“The Customs and Terminal Operators in every seaport in Nigeria know that those who contribute to the huge revenue of this nation through maritime services are the Igbos.
“Therefore, it’s a welcome idea that the Urashi River Port is a topic to be discussed and as a project to be handled as pioneered by the Governor Hope Uzodinma of Imo state. It is indeed a project that ought to be taken seriously by all stakeholders and the Federal Government,” the Monarch said.
He stated that those saying that Imo State or the entire South East is landlocked are naïve because “what they do not know is that the Urashi River leads to Blue River and the Atlantic Ocean and therefore have the capacity to accommodate vessels of any capacity. The draft of that seaport will be very encouraging that no matter the tonnage of any ship, it will successfully anchor at the shores of the River.”
According to him, developing the Urashi Seaport is the greatest favour the government can do to the Igbo businessmen as that will reduce the hardship the go through to bring their goods and the huge cost they have to pay to bring their imports from Lagos or Port Harcourt to Aba, Onitsha, Enugu and Nnewi.
“What am saying is with regard to the huge transport cost and the level of extortion along the roads from Lagos to the South East by officials of government and security agencies, such costs could be saved in the best interest of importers and consumers.
“River Urashi I can say from my knowledge of seaport has an answer to our economic problems for the South East and South/South.”
He however, said that his fear is that the project seems being frustrated by some vested interests who would go extra miles to make sure it doesn’t see the light of the day because they know that Urashi Seaport coming on stream will put many of them out of business or dry up their source of revenue.
Eze Ohanwe vowed that the governors from the zone, the business community and even the Ohaneze worldwide, are taking the development of the seaport seriously because of its benefits to the zone and Nigeria; “and we will go the extra miles to prevent those who wouldn’t want the Urashi Seaport actualized from having their way.
He described the proposed seaport as the fortune of the zone today. “It is our economic deliverer and saviour, that our entrepreneurs, and our importers/ exporters of products from South East zone will breathe life into the economy which has its ripple effect on common man
“The Oguta community, the Imo community and by extension the South East will offer all needed support to the project.
“We therefore call on the media and other stakeholders to come out and be counted, to make this dream of our governor come to reality,” Eze Ohanwe said.
He noted that when the project was launched by the former Vice President, Prof. Yemi Osinbajo, the traditional rulers of Urashi and the entire host community welcomed it and vowed to do everything to make this dream come true.
“And the entire Imo State traditional rulers supported and applauded the state governor for this vision because none of the administrations in the past ever considered it, in view of how it will benefit common man on the street or markets.”