The Federal Government has reiterated its commitment to reactivating the nation’s inland waterways transportation to revive the trading activities and boost the economy.
The Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr Boss Mustapha, said this at the unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the power River Niger on Thursday, in Abuja.
Mustapha said that there was the need to really get back the mode of transportation on the inland waterways, so as to rekindle the trading activities that used to exist along the river Niger and Benue.
He commended the Nigerian Navy for providing the resources, persons and the platforms for the conduct of the chatting of the River Niger.
He also commended the Ministry of Transportation through National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and other stakeholders for the professionalism they had exhibited.
He said the successful execution of the project locally, had saved the country huge foreign exchange, adding that all the charts in the past were done by foreign firms.
“But today we can beat our chest and say that our Nigerian Navy has provided the platform that is necessary for the chart and for that.
“What this charting has done is that it has created an infrastructure or a process that eventual exercises of capital dredging or maintenance dredging will be guided.
“It is important that we realise that whichever government takes over from President Mohammed Buhari, it must continue the trajectory of creating an intermodal transport system for this country.
“whether we like it or not, it would inhibit our development if we could.
“About a month or two ago, the Federal Executive Council approved a contract, worth N1.9 trillion through the tax credit scheme for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of our roads.”
He said that, that was however important, but added that if an alternative means of transportation was not provided that would carry heavy duty goods, the lifespan of the roads could not be saved.
“So it is important that we continue along this trajectory and ensure that it is not only the chatting but also to think about getting the corporate world to participate.
“It is also important that we get the corporate world to be genuinely involved in the development of the river Niger so that we can save the lifespan and also remove the level of carnage, casualties, fatalities that are recorded on our roads on a daily basis,” he said.
Minister of Transformation, Mr Mu’azu Sambo, said the navigational chart was a project that could potentially change the very dynamics of prosperity for the country.
Sambo said the project was in tandem with the statutory responsibilities and objectives of the Ministry of Transportation to boost the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari’s government.
This he said was towards the development and operation of an efficient and safe transportation network.
He said that a well developed and efficient inland water transportation was necessary for an integrated and functional multimodal transportation system which its major pillar was dependent upon accurate and timely hydrographic studies and charts.
According to him, the objective of this project is to provide direct maritime linkages within Nigeria and between African countries.
“Thereby utilising Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products (GDP) growth attracting foreign direct investments (FDI) creating highly needed jobs and boosting internal as well as intra African trading.
“The United States economy today is supported by revenues in excess of 70 billion dollars from 600 million tonnes of cargo transported through its inland waterways.
“It created hundreds of thousands of jobs, building and industrial communities along the waterway channels and thus spreading economic prosperity throughout the length and breadth of these waterways.
“The United States of America’s waterways and multimodal transportation network provide a competitive edge in global markets.
“No wonder its corn and soybean farmers are the most efficient in the world.”
The minister said that Nigeria was blessed with an 800 kilometer coastline and over 10,000 kilometers of inland waterways that potentially confirms it with such maritime power.
“That in itself alone and transform this country into a great and prosperous place on earth.
“I would like to reaffirm the Federal Minister of Transportation’s commitment to the successful attainment of the overall objective of this project as aligned with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the holistic and sustainable development of the maritime sector and the inland waterways in particular,” he said.
The Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu, said the chart covered a total distance of 594KM (321 Nautical Miles) with a total survey area of 1719.8 Square Kilometers.
Moghalu, represented by the General Manager, Legal Services, Mr Danladi Ibrahim, commended the Nigerian Navy for the successful collaboration which ensured the successful execution of the project.
He said that NIWA would be looking forward to future collaboration with the Navy with a view to extending the hydrographic survey of Inland Waterways nationwide.
“Consequently, the successful completion of the project through this kind of collaboration represents a major milestone in the history of the development of inland water transportation in Nigeria.
“I would therefore like to affirm the NIWA’s commitment to its statutory function of developing and improving the Inland Waterways Transportation system in Nigeria.
“We are also committed to providing an enabling environment for the private sector Participation in the development of the Inland Waterways Transportation (IWT) sector.
“In the same vein, I am glad to inform you that the Authority has just concluded the installation of marine navigational buoys from the Onitsha River Port to the Bifurcation on the River Niger as part of our efforts to ensuring adequate provision of navigational aid on the Waterways.
“The Authority has also installed Permanent Electronic Gauge Stations at several locations along the Lower River Niger and is also executing several other projects on Inland waterways nationwide especially on the Lower River Niger to ensure all year-round navigation,” he added.
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