Two years after President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned the Baro Inland Port, an aggrieved chieftain of the All Progressives Congress in Niger State, Comrade Jonathan Tsado Vatsa has accused the Minister of Transport, Rotimi Amaechi of frustrating the formal taking off of the project.
While addressing journalists on Saturday, Vatsa, a former Publicity Secretary of the APC in the state, recalled that the N5.8billion contract for the Baro Inland Port was awarded by former President Goodluck Goodluck Jonathan in 2012 and was purportedly commissioned by President Mohammadu Buhari in 2019.
It should also be recalled that President Buhari, during the inauguration of the port, expressed deep personal attachment to the project, saying that, “I (Buhari) assisted in the design of the complex during my time as Chairman of the defunct Petroleum Special Task Force.”
Vatsa who was the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism, queried that “three years after the commissioning, the port is yet to take off. I believe that the non take off of the port was the handiwork of the Minister of Transport who has frustrated every effort towards the realization of this important project”.
Accordingly, he disclosed that the recent submission by the Minister is a clear indication that “the Minister of Transport did not believe in the project and therefore will not allow it to see the light of the day”.
It should be noted that the former Governor of Rivers State, Ameachi in a recent interview, apparently alluded to the fact that the operationalization of Baro inland Port and others, were not realisable.
Vatsa who is the Coordinator to Niger state Governor, Abubakar Sani Bello on Public Affairs, pointed out that “the position of the Minister came as a shock to all well-meaning people of the state who have been excited with the idea of having an inland port as it used to be in the past.
“Baro Port has a very historic record as one of the melting pots of economic activities in the North. The port boasts a quay length of 150 meters, cargo stacking yard of 7,000 square meters. It also has a transit shed of 3,600 square meters and an estimated capacity of 5,000 TEU at a time.
“The Baro port is equipped with facilities such as water hydrant system, water treatment plant, three forklifts of various tonnages. It is powered by a 100 KVA generating set. The port is expected to provide 2,000 direct and 2,500 indirect jobs.
Vatsa expressed regret that while the Minister did not see anything good about the Baro Inland Port, with its huge economic benefits, the Federal Government is wasting the country’s resources at this critical time of the nation’s history to construct a rail line from Kano to Niger Republic with little or no economic benefits.
Fuming, Vatsa asked, “if the Minister feels the Baro Inland Port is not realizable, what makes him think that the Kano-Niger rail line with no economic benefit to the country is realizable?
“It is now clear that the so-called commissioning of the port in 2019 before the general elections was politically motivated just to deceive the people of the state; if not, how come that three years after, nothing has happened, the port has failed to take off”.
It could also be recalled that a civil society organisation in the state, the Blue Resolution Initiative, (BRI) had earlier accused President Muhammadu Buhari of using the Baro Port project to lure and garner votes from the state in the 2019 presidential elections.
The General Secretary of BRI, Ibrahim Akib Ja’afaru, made the allegations during a press conference in Minna, saying that the group feels bad that the President has not kept to his campaign promises on the issue of Baro Port after winning the election.