Dr George Moghalu, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways (NIWA),on Wednesday said the authority was committed to the development of the nation’s waterways for movement of bulk cargoes and passengers as part of strategies for post Coronavirus (COVID-19) economy.
Moghalu disclosed this while playing host to the State Executive Council (SEC) of the Nigeria Union of Journalists (NUJ), Kogi State Council, and members of the Correspondents’ Chapel of the union in Lokoja.
He said that COVID-19 had no doubt devastated the economy and a lot of strain would be on the people by the time it was over, adding that there was need for development of strategies to mitigate its effect.
Moghalu said that governments at all levels had demonstrated capacity and were addressing COVID-19 pandemic squarely, adding that budgets had been adjusted to meet the reality of the time and there was still a lot to be done.
“I am concerned about what is going to be our fate at the end of the COVID-19. We must look at the issue from the perspective of what we are doing now and how we want to improve on it tomorrow, so that we can play a role in strengthening the economy.
The managing director said that the agency was targeting movement of bulk cargo and passengers through the inland waterways to give respite to the roads.
“What will give me joy is, by the time I leave office, let river transportation, water transportation be the transport means of choice both for passengers and and for cargoes.
“The damage our roads suffer through movement of bulk cargoes is alarming. By the time we improve on our cargo handling capacity in terms of movement of bulk cargo, we would have saved the nation a lot of money.
“If for example you want to move 1,000 containers from Lagos Port, which is our major Port, to the East, it means you want to put 1,000 trailers on the roads and the pressure of 1,000 trailers on the road can only be imagined.
“If we move these cargoes on water. It means we have succeeded in moving these trailers from the roads,”he said.
Moghalu said in view of the commitment of NIWA to ensure all-year-round navigation and to scale up activities of the agency, the Federal Executive Council (FEC) had approved review of the contract for Lokoja Port from N4.1 billion to N6.4 billion.
He said, “We expect that in a very short while, the contractor will move back to site. We are very confident and committed to realising that project. we are driven by the fact that we have to leave sustainable legacy.”
On the issue of water channels, Moghalu said the country had over 10,000 km of waterways with only about 3,600 km navigable, adding that the authority had earlier done capital dredging and was now engaged in maintenance dredging.