Onitsha River Port Concessionaire stalled as Banks Demand 40% Annual Interest


Concessionaire of Onitsha River Port Raises Concerns Over High Interest Rates

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Universal Elison, the concessionaire of the Onitsha River port, has voiced concerns over the exorbitant interest rates prevailing in Nigeria. At a recent stakeholders’ meeting with Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, in Lagos, the company representative, Bernadine Eloka, highlighted the challenges faced by operators due to steep lending rates.

Funding Challenges
Eloka cited difficulties in securing funding for acquiring ocean-going barges and tugboats, with banks demanding a staggering 40% interest rate annually. Negotiations with banks managed to reduce the rate to 30%, but financing remains a significant hurdle.

Bureaucratic Bottlenecks
The process of obtaining barge registration and licenses from the National Inland Waterways Authority was described as marred by bureaucracy and frustrations. Eloka emphasized the need for streamlined procedures to facilitate smoother operations.

Operational Expansion
Despite challenges, Clarion Bonded Terminal, under Universal Elison, operates bonded terminals facilitating container movement from Lagos, Port Harcourt, and Onne to Onitsha. Plans include expanding operations to Onne, Calabar, and Port Harcourt, with the recent completion of an ocean-going barge and tugboat.

Call for Government Support
Eloka appealed to the government for support in dredging waterways from Lagos to Onitsha and Port Harcourt to Onitsha. Such infrastructure improvements are crucial for enhancing transportation efficiency and reducing logistics costs.

Policy Advocacy
In addition to financial support, the concessionaire urged the Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy to streamline registration and licensing processes for barges and tugs. Simplifying these procedures would enhance operational efficiency and reduce operational costs.

Concession Background
The National Inland Waterways Authority announced the concession of the Onitsha River Port to a private concessionaire for 30 years in April 2023. This move aims to alleviate government pressure and generate revenue through royalties paid by the concessionaire.

Way Forward
Addressing the challenges highlighted by Universal Elison requires concerted efforts from both public and private sectors. Policy reforms, infrastructure development, and financial incentives are essential to foster a conducive environment for maritime operations and economic growth.

Godwin Okafor
Godwin Okaforhttps://naija247news.com
Godwin Okafor is a veteran Financial Journalist, Internet Social Entrepreneur, and the visionary Founder of Naija247news Media Limited. With an extensive career spanning over 16 years in financial journalism, Godwin possesses a wealth of experience that seamlessly bridges both traditional and digital media landscapes. His journey in journalism commenced at Business Day, Nigeria, where he laid the foundation for his prolific career. In 2010, Godwin took a bold step by founding Naija247news Media, a platform that has since become a prominent player in delivering timely and accurate news. Educationally, Godwin Okafor holds a Bachelor's degree in Industrial Relations and Personnel Management from the prestigious Lagos State University, Ojo, Lagos. His commitment to continuous learning led him to the Lagos Business School, where he further honed his skills. Additionally, he is recognized as a Fellow of the University of Pennsylvania, having successfully completed the Wharton Seminar for Business Journalists. Throughout his illustrious career, Godwin has earned acclaim by winning numerous journalism awards, a testament to his dedication to excellence in reporting. Beyond his role as a Financial Journalist, Godwin Okafor wears the hat of the Chairman at Emmerich Resources Limited, the publishing entity behind Naija247news. His visionary leadership has played a pivotal role in shaping the media landscape and establishing Naija247news as a trusted source of information. Godwin Okafor's multifaceted expertise, commitment to journalistic integrity, and leadership in the realm of business journalism underscore his influential presence in both the media and entrepreneurial spheres.

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