• Saturday, December 02, 2023
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Why Nigeria should harness its inland waterways – Minister

Why Nigeria should harness its inland waterways – Minister

Mu’azu Sambo, Nigeria’s minister of transportation, has described the nation’s inland waterways as cash cows long overdue for harnessing.

Sambo said this at the inauguration of a technical working group (TWG) proposal for channel management between Escravos, Onitsha and Baro Port on the Niger River on public-private partnership (PPP) arrangement, in Abuja.

According to him, waterways abound with economic potential capable of boosting the country’s gross domestic product.

“Providence has challenged me to put into reality what I went to China to pursue as an employee of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

“I went to China in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In my own case, I was marketing the waterfront lands owned by NIWA and we zeroed in on the Marina NIWA Area Office with a proposal to reclaim that land to build a container terminal and a passenger terminal for people passing through Apapa.

“The idea is that when containers come into Lagos, you don’t have to discharge those meant for Onitsha in Lagos.

“But transport them in barges or vessels that can transverse low draughts to Onitsha port to be picked by vehicles for distribution in the hinterlands.

Read also: There are opportunities investors can tap in Lagos waterways – LASWA GM

“The primary objective is to invest, maintain and operate a high grade inland waterways channel between Baro River Port point to Onitsha River Port to the Warri Port at the Niger River and onward connection to the Gulf of Guinea.

“This is to ensure a sustainable maritime transportation route and lay a solid foundation for a navigation network that will connect the Lagos ports, Lekki deep seaport with Onitsha and Baro River Port.

The minister observed that the value of such activities would lead to the decongestion of Lagos Ports, prolong the lifespan of the roads, reduce pollution, and create a new mode of transportation by water.

He said this would in turn not only engage civilians but security forces as the cargoes had to be escorted. Sambo said the terms of Reference of the TWG was to carry out legal, financial and technical due diligence on Messrs DIDs Ltd, home and abroad.

“Documentation of every single data and raw materials collected from survey and the operational processes for the purpose of security and future use for the development of a robust Project Structuring Report (PRS).

“It will also x-ray policies applicable for the purpose of putting the Inland waterways channel for economic use.

“Negotiate what is accruable to the Federal Government/NIWA at every operation and any other responsibility as may be directed by the minister.

“The 18-man TWG has technocrats from NIWA, Nigeria Ports Authority (NPA), the Navy among others, with the permanent secretary, transportation, Magdalene Ajani, as the chairman.

“The managing director, NIWA, George Moghalu, will stand as alternate chairman, the deputy general manager, business development, NIWA, Hassan Kaka as secretary,” he added.