WISTA Demands Functional Onitsha River Port For Eastern Traders

WISTA Demands Functional Onitsha River Port For Eastern TradersBy Kenneth Jukpor

As part of efforts to enhance import and export from the Eastern part of the country, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) will engage the affected agencies of government to get the Onitsha river port operational.

The resolve to achieve this was developed when WISTA Nigeria members met for a general meeting/ conference which was held online, on Tuesday, last week.

Chairperson, Sealink Implementation Committee (SIC) Mrs. Dabney Shall-Holma, made the call whilst stressing that there is a dire need for Nigeria to balance its trade via export.

Shall-Holma also admonished WISTA Nigeria to fight for the interest of traders in the Eastern region to have the Onitsha river port operational.

“Why is Onitsha river port not working? It has captive cargoes. Every cargo in the Eastern region can reach the international market via Onitsha river port. I have been fighting to have this port operational under the Sealink project and even as an individual. It is time for WISTA Nigeria to use its advocacy for the trading aspect to fight for Onitsha traders and those in the Eastern part of the country,” she queried.

According to her, there are numerous opportunities for export of cashew nuts, ginger, sesame seeds, among others.

However, she stressed that the products should be harnessed with added value that would enhance the quality of the items while providing the much needed employment opportunities in the country.

She posited that unless the nation attains better transport connectivity, it would be impossible to attain cheaper freight to make Nigerian products competitive in the global market.

In a bid to ensure Nigerian women and their businesses are better placed amid the pandemic, a former Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mrs. Chinwe Ezenwa stressed that the pandemic should make women explore automation and restructure their businesses.

Ezenwa who is also the Chief Executive Officer, Lelook, described business as a war, encouraging women to fight the competition for funding via banks, fight their competitors with innovation and better products and services.

According to her, women should endeavour to deepen their knowledge about their various businesses, while she encouraged them to source for new markets by embracing the export agenda of the federal government in a bid to grow their businesses.

She cited the AGOA as a viable tool to utilize in exporting to the United States of America (USA), noting that the platform had been in existence for more than a decade yet many businesses are oblivious of the opportunity.

Also speaking at the virtual conference, Co- Chairperson, Nigeria Admiralty Law and Procedure Reform Committee, Barr. Jean-Chiazor Anishere stated that policy identification would be key in the maritime sector for the post pandemic era.

She commended the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for taking the initiative to address policy issues for seafarers certification and remuneration.

Anishere, who is also the President of African Women in Maritime (WIMAFRICA), asserted that the pandemic reinforced the need for digital technology at the ports, noting that women should leverage innovation to network with their customers and clients.

She, however, noted that the pandemic increased the demand for items like hand sanitizers, face masks, hand wash, stressing that WISTA members could explore soap making, production of sanitizers and the textile industry for products to meet the new demands as well as export.

The meeting also featured questions from WISTA members and contributions by the maritime amazons, such as; former Director, Special Duties at NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka, a former General Manager at Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mrs. Carol Ufere, among others.

The President of WISTA Nigeria, Mrs. Eunice Ezeoke thanked the speakers, members of the association and assured that regular online meetings would be held to ensure members benefit from the wealth of experience of WISTA Diamonds.

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