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After 14 years, Calabar Port receives  first Cocoa export 

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Abiola Seun

Nigeria is on the path to booming non-oil export as the maiden voyage of 7,000 tons of cocoa export takes off from Calabar port to the United States of America.

The 7000 tons of cocoa was loaded by Starlink Global and Ideal Limited through Ecomarine Terminals in Calabar Port for onward export to United States.
Calabar port, located in Cross River State,  has faced draft limitations for over 14 years after concession, but the ingenuity of Ecomarine Terminals Limited led to the maiden export of cocoa beans from the seaport.
The feat is a turning point in the history of Calabar port and it signals improving non-oil export from Nigeria.
Speaking at the load out ceremony in Calabar, the Governor, Cross River State, Ben Ayade, said the state is rich in agricultural resources, urging the NPA to expedite action on the dredging of Calabar channels in other to aid increase in exports.
Ayade, who was represented by the Commissioner for Commerce, Mrs. Rosemary Archibong, said “Its time for us not to just export raw materials, but export processed goods’
She urged the indigenes to exploit the massive opportunities that the numerous cash crops in the state present.
Ayade assured that the waterways are always under surveillance, hence the adequate security in the state.
Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Hadiza Bala Usman said the authority is pursuing the Federal Government’s economic recovery agenda  through consistent improvement on quality of service delivery at the nation’s seaports, especially the eastern ports.
She said Calabar port did not fall short of revenue generation, even during the peak of COVID-19 pandemic, showing the efficacy of service improvement.
Bala Usman said: “Although, we are not where we want to be, we are definitely not where we used to be. I therefore call on all shippers and port users within the Northern and Eastern flanks to follow the example of Starlinks and bring their cargoes to Calabar and other Eastern ports. This will certainly ease the pressure on Lagos ports,”
Acting General Manager, Ecomarine Terminals Limited (ECM), Calabar, Edward Akpan, said the company  has identified the gaps that hinders diverse business opportunities that abound in the maritime domain in Nigeria and Calabar pilotage district in particular, adding that despite the challenges, ECM has consistently marketed the port and it is one of the few ports that export clinker, PKS, cement and now cocoa in the country today.
According to him, ECM Terminals, Calabar Port is an alternate port for trade facilitation and must be seen as a critical evacuation corridor for cargo to/from the catchment areas.
Applauding the NPA for the recent incentive granted to container liners willing to call the eastern ports, Akpan called for reintroduction of a rebate regime in a bid to drive traffic to Calabar port.
Noting that the non-completion of the dredging of the channel to the advertised draft of 9.4 meters is today the biggest threat to the development of the port with adverse effect on its functionality, he therefore urged the government to ensure urgent dredging of the channel.
He also stressed the need to integrate Calabar port with the national rail link as the benefits of a multi-modal Calabar port will be a huge asset to the nation’s economy.
 Director-General of the NEPC, Segun Awolowo, said exporters suffer undue delay at Lagos due to the traffic congestion, stressing the need to boost operations at the Easter ports, such as Calabar port.
He said NEPC is vigorously pursuing its zero-oil export agenda, urging the government agencies to provide necessary infrastructure for Calabar ports as an alternative to Lagos ports.
Managing Director, Nigeria Export Import Bank, Abubakar Abba Bello, said the renewed promotion of export through Calabar port would boost the economy of the region and generate employment for the youths.
He said export is very important for Nigeria and it cannot continue to focus on oil sector, but also exploit the non-oil sector.
Managing Director, Starlink Global Ideal Limited, Adeyemi Adeniji stressed the need for government to encourage local investors, noting that the cocoa would be shipped on a chattered vessel.
ECM Terminals Limited Calabar Free Ports is a multipurpose terminal designed to handle and store various types of cargo. The terminal, which consists of three berths, 4-6 has a total length of 480m.
TECMT is a multipurpose terminal with expertise in handling diverse types of cargo.  The terminal is ISO 9001:2015 certified hence makes it more customer-centric niche port.

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