Capital of the State of Rivers, Port Harcourt lies on the banks of the Bonny River about 66 kilometers upstream from the Gulf of Guinea in southwestern Nigeria. Port Harcourt is a major industrial center, with several multi-national firms located there, and the most important oil refining city in Nigeria. In 2007, over 1.6 million people lived in Port Harcourt, and almost 3.7 million lived in the Greater Port Harcourt region.
Port Harcourt was founded in 1912 by the British in an area inhabited by the Ijo tribe. When the railway to the Enugu coal fields arrived there in 1916, Port Harcourt began to operate in earnest.
Today, Port Harcourt is one of Nigeria’s biggest ports. It has modern deep-water facilities with alongside depth of 7 meters. Named after Lewis, Viscount Harcourt who was Secretary of State for the British Colonies, Port Harcourt was created to export coal from Enugu.
Exports passing from Port Harcourt’s hinterland include palm oil, timber, palm kernels, coal, columbite, tin, peanuts, and petroleum from fields in the eastern Niger River area. In 1970 the Port of Onne was created to supplement Port Harcourt’s capacity and traffic. Port Harcourt is quickly becoming the “capital” for Nigeria’s rapidly-growing oil industry.
An important industrial center, Port Harcourt is home to the Trans-Amadi Industrial Estate about six kilometers to the north. This thousand-hectare site is home to manufacturers of aluminum products, tires, paper, and glass bottles.
Manufacturers in the town make cigarettes, paints, structural steel, plastics, corrugated tin, furniture, enamelware, cement, and concrete products. The town has bicycle and truck assembling plants, and Port Harcourt is also home to more traditional boat-building and fishing industries. Port Harcourt is connected to the nation’s rail and highway networks, and there is an international airport 11 kilometers northeast.
Unfortunately, Port Harcourt has gained a reputation as a violent city, with a high crime rate resulting from frequent robberies, kidnappings, and attacks on oil installations since 2006. Some reports put the number of kidnappings as high as two per week. The attacks have hurt export traffic leaving Port Harcourt and other Nigerian ports, and some oil companies may leave the region as a result.
The Nigerian Ports Authority governs all of the major ports in Nigeria, including Port Harcourt, even though the agency is being privatized. The Nigerian Ports Authority mission is to support the national economy and well-being through efficient management of port operations, optimal allocation and use of resources, diversification of sources of revenue, and consistent returns on investments.
The Federal Ocean Terminal in Port Harcourt has a 1320 meter long quay with alongside depth of 10 meters. The industrial area covers 500 thousand square meters, and there are 46 thousand square meters of warehouse areas available.
Port Harcourt’s Federal Lighter Terminal has a 1675-meter long quay with alongside depths from 8 to 10 meters at low tide. The terminal contains a 400 thousand square meter industrial area and 33 thousand square meters of warehouses.