• Thursday, May 23, 2024
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NIWA seeks free funds to complete abandoned Oguta, Jamata River Ports

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Determined to open up several river ports for the business of decongesting the seaports and bringing port business closure to the people, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said it’s presently seeking free funds to complete the abandoned Oguta and Jamata River Ports.

Oguta River Port, which is in Imo State is about 61 percent completed but abandoned as the port had not been in the budget for the past 10 years, said George Moghalu, managing director of NIWA.

On the amount of fund required to complete the two ports, NIWA boss stated that the authority needs to carry out fresh assessment in order to ascertain the amount required to complete both ports.

Moghalu, who spoke to newsmen at the weekend in Lagos on the sideline of Stakeholders’ Meeting for Key Operators in Maritime Industry Dredging/Inland Waterways Transportation, said the authority is presently engaging the Imo State Government and some other critical stakeholders to see how to raise money for the completion of the port projects.

“We are looking at how to get free money to complete the port project because if Federal Government had invested 60 percent which runs into billions of naira on the project, leaving it uncompleted becomes a disaster. This means that the money already invested is a waste because the structures would dilapidate. So, completing it for me is also priority,” he said.

He stated that same fate applies to Jamata Port in Lokoja, which is about 57 percent completed despite the fact that the project has been in the budget.

On river ports, he said that the concessioning process for Onitsha River Port has started such that his first outing to the National Assembly was to go and defend a petition against the process of privatisation and commercialisation.

“We would have travelled to Belgium last Sunday for due diligence at the Port of Antwerp, who also visited Nigeria vis-à-vis Onitsha River Port recently. It was consequent upon their early visit that invitation was extended to us but we were forced to put a hold on that visit due to Coronavirus,” he stated.

While stating that Onitsha River Port is completed, Moghalu noted that concession involves alloy of process, which differs from the process of selling ones personal house.

“If there is anything that I hope to achieve before leaving office is to see that Onitsha River Port and Baro River Port are completed and fully operational that was why my first official visit after my appointment by water was going to Baro from Lokoja. Baro is also a completed port,” he said.

For Baro, he said, nothing has started in line of concessioning but we identified a challenge including lack of access road to the port. “For instance, the big question is if we bring cargo to Baro, through which road would the owner take it out? We are going to Minna to open a discussion with the Niger State Government to find solution to that challenge.”

According to him, NIWA would also engage the Federal Ministry of Works, adding that the issue of Baro Port road is in the budget.

“Once we are able to resolve that, interested investors would come. Though, the port is world-class and properly completed but private sector investors would not be able to invest due to the road situation. We are determined to doing it and we have the buy-in of our management,” he said.

He however noted that NIWA under his leadership needs to get these two ports functioning while every efforts is being made to get money to complete Oguta and Jamata Ports.