The Marine Club of Nigeria has indicated its interest in going into partnership with the Rivers state government for a sustained development of a free trade zone. The Club which is an umbrella association of professionals, practitioners and stakeholders of the Nigerian maritime, is also seeking to establish its national headquarters in Port Harcourt, the capital city of Rivers state.
The President of the Club, Dr. Chinedu Jideofo-Ogbuagu, said in a chat with journalists yesterday, that the free trade zone would provide mooring facilities and serve as operational base of the club`s operational mother vessels “MV MCN” and other vessels.
Dr. Jideofo-Ogbuagu said the creation of the free zone would increase the much needed maritime activities not only at the Port Harcourt port but across the city and boost maritime economy, safety and security in the state.
He said that the club had presented a letter to the Rivers State Governor Nyesom Wike requesting for a courtesy call and allocation of waterfront for the creation of the free trade zone.
The President of the club also requested that Governor Wike become their patron, saying that though they were initially chased away by militancy and insecurity in the state, but they have been encouraged to return by “the improved security in Rivers State” under the watch of the governor.
“Our return to Port Harcourt and partnership with your government will mean return to vigorous pursuit of our original vision of Port Harcourt as the maritime-economy hub of Nigeria and the West Coast of Africa.
“Increasing activities plus a cooperative Ricers State Government will lead to increased maritime economy, safety and security in the state. More importantly, as the economy of Rivers State is up to 90% maritime in nature, increased activities in the maritime sector of the state will rapidly increase employment and wealth creation in the state, which would mean greater well-being across the board for all Rivers people,” he stated.
Dr. Jideofo-Ogbuagu insisted that free trade zones were veritable means of accelerated development of any economy stressing that the major reason for the quick economic growth of the BRICK countries was the development of free trade zones.
According to him, “Maritime economy constitutes between 60-75 percent of the entire global economy. If you get it right through free trade zone Rivers State will not only be the maritime hub of Nigeria, but that of the West Coast of Africa.
Port Harcourt is supposed to be by far ahead of Lagos because 90 percent of its economy is maritime and I have the capacity and connections, globally to bring renowned ship builders to Port Harcourt. We are not paying attention to maritime development. Give us a waterfront land, they are fallow and developers will be here,” he said.
He debunked the fear of competition saying that Port Harcourt alone could host as many as 20 free trade zones, noting that Lagos has 35 of such licensed trade zones but that currently only 10 were very active.