The Federal Ministry of Transportation has set up a technical working group for the management and possible dredging of Escravos, Onitsha, and Baro Port channels on the Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.
Speaking at the inauguration of the group in Abuja recently, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the minister of transportation, described the nation’s inland waterways as an economic potential capable of revolutionising the contribution of the sector to the country’s Gross Domestic Product.
Sambo said that as a NIWA employee, he went to China to market the waterfront lands, particularly the Marina front with the intention to reclaim the land and to build a container and passenger terminal for people passing through Apapa.
According to him, the idea was that when containers come into Lagos, there would not be a need to discharge the ones meant for Onitsha in Lagos but transport them in barges or vessels that can transverse low draughts to Onitsha port for onward distribution to the hinterlands.
“The primary objective is to invest, maintain and operate a high-grade inland waterways channel between Baro, Onitsha River Port, Warri Port at the Niger River, and onward connection to the Gulf of Guinea for a sustainable maritime transportation route. This will lay a solid foundation for a navigation network that would connect the Lagos ports, and Lekki Deep Seaport with the Onitsha and Baro River Port,” the Minister said.
Sambo further said that a good channel will enable the transportation of containerised and other cargoes for shipping efficiency in Nigeria.
He said it will lead also to the decongestion of Lagos Ports, prolong the lifespan of the roads, reduce pollution, and create a new mode of transportation by water, which in turn will in turn create jobs for security forces that will escort the cargo and others.
The terms of reference of the group include carrying out legal, financial, and technical due diligence on Messrs DIDs Ltd, at home and abroad.
Document every single data and raw material collected from the survey and the operational processes for the purpose of security and future use for the development of a robust Project Structuring Report.
Examine policies applicable for the purpose of putting the inland waterways channel to economic use, and negotiate the money accruable to the government as well as NIWA at every operation and any other responsibility as may be directed by the Minister.