By Obinna Unaeze
The Baro Port in Niger, has remained dormant and inaccessible since its inauguration four years ago by former President Muhammadu Buhari, a check by the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), has revealed.
The port, located in Agaie Local Government Area, was constructed at the cost of N5.8 billion and has a quarry length of 150 metres, cargo stacking yard of 7,000 square metres, a transit shed of 3, 600 square metres and a capacity of 5,000 TEU at a time.
However, since its inauguration on Jan. 19, 2019, the Baro port has remained dormant, with no visible effort to utilise the facility.
An investor, Alhaji Salau Kabaraini expressed disappointment with the state of affairs, saying it was a huge let down for the locals and Nigerians as a whole.
According to him, the port has no access road, as the road leading to the area remained dilapidated and inaccessible.
NAN gathered that the contract for the major access road to the port, the 53 kilometer Agaie-Katcha-Baro road, was awarded more than 13 years ago, but has remained on the drawing board because of non-release of funds.
He said that the administration of President Bola Tinubu should treat the project as a priority “because of its economic importance”.
Kabaraini said that the port has the capacity to create huge economic opportunities for Nigerians, “more so, as experts said it has the capacity to generate not less than 4,500 direct and indirect jobs”.
He said, “Bring this road back to life. I remember during the time of Nigeria’s founding fathers, produce like cotton, groundnut, hide and skin were transported from Kano through Baro port and exported overseas.
“I am interested in investing in Baro port. Since the commissioning of this port, one will think that by now there will be good roads to the port and flurry of economic activities, but unfortunately none.
“When you want to site an industry, one of the criteria to consider is access road and it’s not there.”
Mr Yusuf Mohammed, Unit Head, Marine Area Office, National Inland Waterways Authority, Minna, decried the condition of the road leading to the port, saying it has made their operation difficult.
“The road to the port is not pliable, when we went there recently it was not easy for us to get to the port because it is swampy during the rainy season,” he added.
A former Chairman of Agaie LGA, retired Capt. Hassan Baro, said that not only has the port remained dormant, but also inaccessible because of lack of road.
He appealed to the Federal Government to make the facility viable by not only building roads, but also a rail line and continuously dredging the River Niger to ensure unhindered movement of ships to the port.
“The operationalisation of Baro port would bring significant improvement to the nation’s economy. It is very unfortunate that such laudable project with all its potential benefits has been neglected,” the former LGA chairman said.
A stakeholder, retired Capt. Ibrahim Yahaya said a major bridge contract to link River Niger with Kwara River has also remained at a standstill.
According to him, the contract which was awarded in 2018, if completed, would facilitate movement of goods and services from the port to all parts of the country.
Yahaya said the project was designed to provide access road with standard bridge for movement of goods and services to all part of the country, which would have improved socio-economic activities of the people.
On his part, the Chairman, Baro Area Development Commission, Dr Liman Alhaji, said Niger Government was committed to partnering the federal government to activate the Baro port because of its immense economic benefits to the state and the nation.(NAN)
Edited by Mohammed Baba Busu/Maharazu Ahmed