KOGI (Transport Ministry’ Report)- The Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi has said that it is gratifying that in line with Government Change Mantra, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) is making progress by maintaining the dredging of the 162km Ajaokuta-Onitsha waterways in-house, thereby saving the Country some millions of Naira in the area of skill utilization and empowering its staff.
The Minister said this during the occasion of the flag-off of the maintenance dredging of Ajaokuta-Onitsha Channel on River Niger by the Management of NIWA recently.
According to the Minister, “It is our hope to see the full concession of the Onitsha River Port before the end of the year, completion of the Lokoja River Port and supply of Cargo handling equipment at Baro River Port. With this, NIWA is poised to improve the navigability of the waterways, increase the value of water fronts and generate economic activities along the River banks as well as the rural communities.”
He added that the dredging of these waterways is very important as it would create employments and businesses, adding that “It will complement activities at the Lokoja River Port and create multiple benefits.”
The Minister commended the Managing Director NIWA, Boss Mustapha for mobilizing dredgers to carry out the smooth navigation of badges and vessels on the waterways.
Amaechi advised the MD NIWA to include in the next year’s budget, a provision to buy a bigger dredger to handle other projects. “This project is a good idea that the NIWA boss tries to get back our old dredgers to do the dredging by ourselves instead of contracting it, especially as we don’t have money to award the contract”.
Rotimi Amaechi thanked the Governor for the interest shown in NIWA and the support he is currently rendering to the Authority on his quest for the development of Kogi State and the Nation at large.
He however appealed to the Ajaokuta community to live in peace and continue to support the National Inland Waterways Authority in its efforts to bring development to the community of which they would be the greatest beneficiaries.
Earlier, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways, Mr. Boss Mustapha said that the current exercise is a value focused project aimed at providing navigable channels on routes with proven economic activities. He stated that “the estimated removal of 523,000m of dredged material will create deeper channels suitable for the current movement of ceramic tiles and granites from Ajaokuta to Onitsha, clay from Ozubulu to Ajaokuta among others”.
In his words, “We have improved on the technical know- how among other things. it is an exercise that will address bottlenecks around Ikenne border. We will continue with this exercise gradually and across other States in Nigeria. The result of our effort is why we have invited the Minister.”
While speaking on the inland water transportation role in the development of Nigeria, Mr. Mustapha said it is safe and cheaper than other means of transportation, adding that the River contributed to forty per cent of Chinese Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
Making similar commendations, the Executive Governor of Kogi State, Yahaya Bello said: “We are happy that this dredging project which will cover a distance of 162km from Ajaokuta to Onitsha will be undertaken by NIWA on behalf of the Ministry. NIWA knows these waters well and has the necessary equipment and expertise to handle the project.”
He assured the Minister of the full support of the State, saying “We will do our roles as Government in monitoring and implementation, and in making sure that a cordial relationship exists between the dredging teams and our communities along the dredging route.”