Mr George Moghalu, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has assured the people of South East of Federal Government’s determination to commence water transport operations at the Onitsha River Port.
Moghalu gave the assurance in a keynote address titled “Reforming the Maritime Sector in Onitsha: Priority Areas, Potential Projects and the Way Forward” at a seminar on Tuesday in Onitsha.
The seminar was organised by NIWA to sensitise maritime stakeholders from the South East geo-political zone on its activities aimed at accelerating development of the sector.
He said the ongoing concessional processes of the port would address certain issues and guarantee its operations, as well as that of Baro River Port.
“These two river ports are already completed and government invested much money in them; others are still under construction.
“We are talking with the right people and following the due processes to ensure things are properly done,” he said.
He noted that the Federal Government planned to develop and enhance safety enforcement, minimise environmental damage, and provide a clear framework to enable investors to participate in maritime projects.
According to him, this is to improve growth and competitiveness within the sub-sector.
Moghalu also said that government would install stop gaps to ensure safety and security in the nation’s waterways.
The managing director said NIWA was collaborating with the private sector, and had recently signed a Memorandum of Understanding with a private organisation for the production of life jackets.
“We are also talking with the transporters to invest in the industry; a good number of them have indicated interest to partner with us,” he further disclosed.
However, the managing director expressed dismay over the spate of abuse on the nation’s waterways, including the building of structures along right of ways.
“We have set up a task force on this because there are lots of infringements; we need to know these people and what authorities they have to develop structures on the waterways without the consent and approval of NIWA.
“We will also like to see the permit of those who claim they have it because many of them parade fake permits.
It is no longer business as usual. Things must be done properly,” he said.
He also said that NIWA would partner with the Nigerian Navy and other security agencies to address security challenges in the Gulf of Guinea.
Moghalu urged participants at the seminar to make suggestions on how to key into the global shipping community and maximise the comparative advantage of river ports in the transport sector.