The Federal Government is fervently sourcing for a whopping =N=42Billion to enable work to commence on the much-awaited dredging of lower River Niger; a project that will affect the aquatic lives of indigenes of at least eight states.
The all-important dredging has been delayed for years, but indications emerged last week that owing to the inability to raise the much needed funds, government may have settled for public – private sector partnership.
Sources disclosed to Shipping Position Weekly that already some unidentified banks have expressed interests in the project which may affect lives along the river bank from Kogi state to Bayelsa state through Delta state.
But, citing environmental reasons, Bayelsa state is leading other Niger Delta states to express deep opposition to the project and it has already forwarded the position of these states to ministry of transportation.
Our source confirmed that the states’ position were forwarded through the National Council on Transportation which reportedly held a meeting earlier this year to consider the dangers that are inherent in project.
In the petition which was sighted by Shipping Position Weekly, the states alerted that there about 25 communities within Delta and Bayelsa states alone that are likely to be adversely affected by the dredging
Acknowledging that although the essence of the project is to make the Niger River to be navigable for vessels and other crafts, the states however pointed out that “the waves that will be created by the movement of the ocean liners and medium size cargo vessels will create marine accident of unimaginable proportion, bearing in mind that the unit of carriage used by the people of Niger Delta region for their transport from one village to another and for economic and agricultural activities are dug- out wooden canoes”
They also pointed out that dredging the lower Niger will endanger adjoining creeks, rivers and canals because according to them the Niger river will collect all the water from the smaller creeks and river, a development which is capable of causing more economic loss to the people of the area.
Confirming the development, the press secretary to the minister of state, water transportation, Mr Abiodun Oladunjoye told Shipping Position Weekly that the minister has received the protest letter from those states.
He explained that it may be impossible for the federal government to raise the kind of money that would be required to fund the project.
“The project will go on; government will find a way to assuage the fear of indigenes of the states that will be affected. Also, the state government will also be involved; it has to be packaged as a state and federal government affair”, he explained