* As Bonny Chamber of Commerce inducts over 85 members
By Ignatius Chukwu
Business leaders in Bonny Island in Rivers State have placed a strong demand for a modern boating system as well as a coast guard security system to unlock huge potentials in water transportation in the Niger Delta.
The call was made at the membership induction ceremony in Bonny on Tuesday, November 24, 2020, where over 85 members took the oath of membership.
The president of Bonny Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (BOCCIMA), an elder and engineer, Lawrence F. Jumbo, also called on Gov Nyesom Wike to embark on reclamation for Bonny to make more land available for development.
Jumbo stated; “Sea piracy and substandard transport system are major problems to travellers to the island. The state and local council can work together to modernize our transportation system and make traveling to the island safer. Some regions in Nigeria are establishing security outfits to protect citizens from bandits. I think the south-south should do the same and include coast guard as well. A well-equipped coast guard system will protect against sea piracy as well as save lives in the event of accident on sea.
“We call on RIWAMA to proatctively tackle waste disposal into rivers in Port Harcourt and its environs which damage our aquatic ecosystem, causing pollution in our seas and destruction of marine life.
“I commend the IOCs for the provision of almost uninterrupted electricity and water, allowing businesses to thrive. When our fibre optics becomes operational, we will need it to be completely stable to attract global organizations like Google to set up a campus in Bonny.”
The president regretted that a road to Bonny had been on the drawing board for over 50 years until the NLNG stepped in few years back but that N120Bn project had suffered poor funding. The FG was to pay half of the bill but many said no dime has come from the centre. The NLNG however said the road would be completed in 2023. Gov Wike once said the company would now fund all of it and recover from tax.
The president went on: “BOCCIMA has been resuscitated at the right time, thanks to our visionary monarch, the King, Edward Asimini William Dappa Pepple 111, Perekule X1, Amanyanabo and Natural Ruler of Grand Bonny Kingdom. He has spent precious time sharing with the BOCCIMA Board his vision for a New Bonny – a smart city, a tourist hub and a plac where others can own retirement homes.
“Our DG will share with you details of our efforts in realizing some of this vision. From what I see and know, Bonny can be turned around. Let us join hands to realize this goal.
“Despite the position of Bonny in the Nigerian economy, we are suffering from many infrastructural deficits. God put us at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean, this gives us some advantages. But as an island, it also means that we are cut off, isolated from the rest of the country. A road to connect Bonny to Port Harcourt and thus the rest of the country has been in the works for more than 50 years. It is however not a priority to the powers that be.
“Thanks to the NLNG, a contract has been awarded a few years ago for the construction of a road from Bodo to Bonny. But the FG has not given any attention. Lack of funding and difficult terrain have stalled the construction. It is regretable that the FG is borrowing money to build a rail to the border of Republic of Niger and does not prioritise a road to an economic zone that will yield money to service the loan.
“Due to uniqueness of our terrain, there will be greater cost implications for projects. Technology to build on water or swamp is expensive. We will have to reclaim land for all our projects. For this we will call on Mr Project, the governor of Rivers State, Gov Nyesom Wike, to come to our aid in the reclamation of land for projects.
“As I look ahead, I see a bright future for BOCCIMA, but there are many hudles to overcome. We have competent staff that are trained to meet the needs of the Chamber. As the organization grows, we will continue to offer trainings and improvements to ensure superlative services to our members. We will be prudent and judicious with our funds, with the aim of serving members and the island. Our members and the IOCs should be assured that we do not intend to operate like a wasteful organization. We have set up systems and procedures to promote accountability and responsible utilization of resources.
“The new inductees will agree that the process has been rigorous. This is to ensure we eliminate quacks and those that seek to advance their own agenda. May I implore you to maintain high standards and a sense of probity in your dealings; to earn trust and confidence of your clients and the Chambers. I look forward to setting up the council soon after this induction so that the chambers can run with all organs in place.”
The highlight of the event was the unveiling of a special product called ‘Business Beyond the Island” which showed plans to make Bonny businesses compete globally and export to the world.
The DG, Constance Nwokejiobi, showed slides to reveal great plans for Bonny businesses and collaboration coming between Bonny businesses and others around the world.