- How Bonny Residents Can Maximise Coastal Assets
The Port Manager of Onne Port, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), Mr. Stanley Magaji Yitnoe, has lamented that Nigeria has only harnessed about 20 percent of its maritime sector potentials.
The Port Manager, who was speaking on the sidelines of the 2-day Creative Writing Bootcamp organised by the Maritime Writes Project (MWP) in Bonny Island, Rivers State, stressed that there is a dire need for awareness campaigns and sensitisation via literary works.
According to him, some of the untapped maritime subsectors include; fishing, barge operations, transport and cruise boat operations, hospitality, among others.
His words: “What the nation has harnessed in my opinion is less than 20 percent of what it could optimize from the maritime sector. Nevertheless, I believe that creative writing can correct this. With creative writing I will be able to showcase my job as a Chief Pilot in NPA in a way that the layman understands it. A lot of people don’t really understand the maritime domain, but creative writing is a beautiful way to present this industry to them.”
“Nigeria is yet to harness its maritime potentials because the sensitization and awareness about the industry has been very low. Under the maritime sector, we have fishing, barging, oil and gas, among others. How do we harness and optimize the sector if people don’t have the knowledge. The only way people can learn more about the sector is through the work of journalists and amazing projects on creative writing like we have organized here.”
Speaking specifically on the state of development at Bonny Island, he encouraged the indigenes and residents to change their mindset and become innovative to explore business opportunities available in the coastal community.
“The truth is that their vision and mindset has to change for real development to occur in Bonny Island. Dependency on what the community can give the indigenes should be struck off. They should begin to think about what they can do to improve the environment and better their lives. It is because people don’t have the right mindset, they keep fighting for things that aren’t worth it. Bonny has a lot of potentials because the multinationals are here but the people should seek to improve themselves and not take the geographical location and its benefits for joke,” he remarked.
In order to achieve the necessary development in Bonny, he encouraged the federal government to partner with state and non-state actors to change the mindset of the citizens and also engage the traditional rulers to play a strategic role.
He compared maritime-related businesses in Bonny to Lagos, stating that “there are different ferry transport companies that generate revenue and employment for youths in Lagos. However, apart from NLNG that does maritime transport in Bonny, there are no other indigenous operators in the business.”
“We talked about speedboats and it’s true that people make money out of it but it is not safe. If there is a turbulent weather no one will be comfortable boarding speedboats, they’ll rather opt for NLNG crafts but that is a business venture that hasn’t been harnessed.”
“For tourism and leisure, you find some small sailboats for leisure in Lagos but that’s not the situation in Bonny. There is no 5-Star hotel by the seaside in Bonny. These are potentials that are yet to be exploited and government needs to think outside the box and encourage the right people to invest in these areas,” he added.