· Summons Kachikwu over $115bn oil deal
The Senate has overwhelmingly voted for the establishment of Inland Ports in Onitsha (Anambra State), Enugu, Aba (Abia State), and other land-locked states in the country.
The Upper House said that the existence of the ports in the affected towns will boost commerce and industrial activities in the country.
It therefore asked the Federal Government to direct the Nigerian Shippers Council (NSC) to carry out feasibility studies for purpose of establishing the ports in the proposed towns.
If the Federal Government heeds the move of the Senate, Bauchi and Maiduguri in Borno State, will also benefit from the projects.
To speed up the process, the Upper House mandated its Committees on Transport and Works to ensure the Executive arm of government’s full compliance with its position on the establishment of the Inland Ports in the designated states.
It noted those Inland Ports that have had feasibility studies done on them for establishment of inland waterways ports should be revisited.
The resolution of the Senate was sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Stella Odua (Anambra North).
In her motion titled: “Need for the Establishment of Dry and Inland Ports in Onitsha, Enugu and other Land-Locked States,” Senator Odua said the development of dry ports and inland water transport in Onitsha, Aba and other land-locked areas would facilitate commercial and industrial activities, the export and import of raw materials and equipment into the country.
She noted that the existing maritime ports in Lagos, Port Harcourt (Rivers State) and Calabar (Cross River State) have been overstretched, stressing that the congestion in the ports constitute serious security threat to life and property, especially at a time that there is heightened concern at crowded locations.
The Anambra-born Senator added that due to congestion in the existing maritime ports and the bureaucracy associated with the clearing of goods, a lot of precious time, which would otherwise have been committed to other productive economic engagement, was often wasted.
Odua said that there have been cases of avoidable loss of lives and destruction of goods due to movement by road of containers and heavy equipment on trucks, adding that the situation had led to stunted economic growth and lack of access to the global market.
She expressed optimism that creation of alternative ports would enhance trade, industries, export and import within the zones, noting that bottom-up economic growth would give rise to global access and job creation.
Odua’s motion enjoyed overwhelming support of the Senators present at the plenary.
The Senate President, Abubakar Bukola Saraki directed the relevant committees of the Upper House to ensure that the Federal Government gives priority to establishment of the Inland Ports in the affected states.
Meanwhile, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Dr. Ibe Kachikwu, will soon appear before a joint committee of the Senate to explain Nigeria’s involvement in the recent oil deals with two Asian oil giants in India and China.
The minister will appear before the Senate Joint Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Downstream and Gas to explain the $15 billion proposed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Indian Government and another $80 billion agreement with Chinese firms.
Kachikwu’s invitation was at the instance of a motion moved by Senator Clifford Ordia who noted that the minister negotiated a $15 billion investment with India where the Asian country is expected to make an upfront payment to Nigeria for crude oil purchases.
Senator Ordia said the agreement will facilitate investments in the oil and gas sector, specifically in areas such as refining, oil and gas marketing, upstream ventures, the development of gas infrastructure and in the training of personnel in Nigeria.
He said: “The Minister of State for Petroleum Resources also carried out a road-show in China where an MoU of $80 billion to be spent on investments in oil and gas infrastructure, pipelines, refineries, power, facility refurbishments and upstream financing, spanning five years, was signed with some Chinese companies.
Last June, Kachikwu announced the signing of a multi-billion-dollar deal with some Chinese firms, spanning five years in the oil and gas industry, covering pipelines, refineries, gas and power, facility refurbishments and upstream financing.