LAGOS (Transport Ministry’ Report)- The Minister of Transportation,Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has disclosed that the Federal Government has flagged off the dredging of the 1st and 2nd phase of the River Niger from Lokoja to Onitsha and Onitsha to Bayelsa State. He said this project was initially awarded for N47 billion by the past Administration out of which the sum of N34 billion was paid without any record of work done on the project noting that the same project has now been re-awarded at a cost of 100 million Naira only.
He explained that this was made possible through the superlative initiative put forward by the Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Waterways Agency, (NIWA), Mr Boss Mustapha whom he said volunteered to use the Agency’s Dredgers to facilitate the process while also using local Contractors to complement the Agency’s efforts in this regard.
He said that by this singular effort, the government will be saving whooping sums of billions of Naira that can be channel to execute other economically viable projects in other sectors of the economy.
Amaechi made this disclosure recently in Lagos at the All Stakeholders’ Conference on Fast-tracking Ports Reforms with the Theme “Making Nigerian Seaports World Class”, organized by the Ministry of Transportation and her Agencies in partnership with the Nation Newspaper and Epsilon Limited.
The Minister said that the Conference avails the opportunity for stakeholders in the maritime industry to deliberate, review, improve and come up with actionable plans and initiatives that will assist in reinventing the Nation’s ports.
He further disclosed that President Muhammadu Buhari has approved a new Security architecture that will cost about 186 million dollars to fight piracy on our waters. The Minister added that among the items that will be procured with the funds in the next three or four months include 3 Helicopters, 3 Aircrafts, 12 Vessels, and 20 Cars. All these will be deployed to fight piracy on our waters.
He also disclosed that 20 Locomotives is being expected in the Country and they are likely to arrive by May 29, 2017, meant for the gradual revival of the Narrow Gauge Rail line and Government will concession it to General Electric, (GE) on a ‘build, operate and transfer agreement’. He noted that putting the expected Locomotives on the present bad state of the existing Narrow Gauge Rail line, the Locomotive may run for only 40 KM per hour from Lagos to Kano but when the Narrow Gauge Rail line are fixed they will be able to run for 9-10 hours from Lagos – Kano. He advised Nigerians to be patient with Government and that in no time the expected change will soon come to limelight.
Earlier, the Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Transportation, Sabiu Zahari, represented by the Director Planning, Research and Statistics, Mr. Ishaya in his welcome address noted that the theme of the conference “Making Nigerian Seaports World Class” is apt because of the numerous benefits that the nation stands to gain such as availability of jobs for her teeming youths, opening the nation to active trades with other Countries of the World and making the nation’s Seaports a Maritime hub and providing stability and growth for the nation’s economy.
Also, the Managing Director, Vintage Press Limited, Mr. Victor Ifijeh in his opening speech said that the problems of Nigerian Seaports are well known to all and well documented and until these problems are adequately addressed the need for more engagement cannot be overemphasized. He further said that the discussions to finding lasting solutions to the problems of Nigerian Seaports will continue until a consensus is reached which will lead to an acceptable Template with defined timelines.
In her special address at the occasion, the Managing Director, Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, Hadiza Bala Usman, said that apart from the several efforts being put in place by the management of NPA to making Nigerian Seaports more efficient for port services, NPA has recently commissioned four Tug boats thereby increasing its fleet to 9. She maintained that the procurement of these four Tug Boats portends positive development in the ports and it will no doubt boost revenue generation and enhance port services.
Managing Director, Nigerian Railway Corporation, NRC, Engr. Fidet Okhiria in his goodwill message to Nigerians stated that the Nigerian Railway Corporation is being reposition for effective service delivery in line with the present Administration’s vision for the rail sector, promising that the railway will be made very functional to meet the aspirations of Nigerians.
Others who spoke at the event were, the South African High Commissioner, Lulu Lowe Nguiye, Director General, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA represented by Barr. Sunny Erekesinia, Executive Secretary, Nigerian Shippers’ Council, represented by Deputy Director Compliance, Monitoring & Enforcement, Mr. Agu Cajetan, Managing Director, Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA represented by Mr Danlandi Ibrahim, Chairman, Independent Corrupt Practices and other Offences Commission, ICPC represented by the Director, Public Enlightenment, Mrs. I. Okodia.