The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA)said on Wednesday that it has licensed eight companies for barge operations from Lagos seaports to the Onitsha river port in Anambra state.
Managing Director of NIWA; Dr. George Moghalu said this at the inauguration of the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and NIWA joint Technical Committee on water transportation in Lagos.
The eight-member committee was inaugurated at the Shippers Council head office by the Executive Secretary of the council; Mr Hassan Bello.
According to the NIWA boss who was represented by the agency’s General Manager in charge of Marine, Mr. Joseph Ororo, the licensed companies would soon commence barge operations
He however acknowledged that, noted that barging of cargoes from Lagos ports to Onitsha river port cannot be superintended by NIWA alone. It required a good working relationship with other sister agencies of the federal government.
He said there were issues to be resolved, and that it required the cooperation of agencies like Nigerian Ports Authourity, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety, The Navy and the Nigerian Shippers Council.
“We can only make progress when we embrace water transportation. Nigeria need to take advantage of water transportation and use of barges”, he stressed.
The joint committee on effective water transportation which has the responsibility to attain seamless movement of goods and persons within the country’s inland waterways, comprises Directors from NSC and General Managers from NIWA.
Speaking at the inauguration exercise yesterday, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello charged the team to be diligent, while stressing that the task if carried out properly, could bring enormous economic benefits to the nation.
His words: “Recall that one of the critical functions of Shippers’ Council is the consideration of problems faced by shippers with regards to inland waterways transportation of goods and to advise the government on possible solutions thereto. The NSC in playing this role and in addition to its economic regulatory function has the responsibility of ensuring seamless and effective cargo movement along the transport chains, reduce costs and facilitate trade.”
Bello said these responsibilities support the Council’s continuous quest for collaborative partnerships with relevant agencies to drive programs and projects that would change the face of the nation’s logistics chain.
“Our target is to ensure the availability, affordability, stability, predictability, adequacy and accessibility of transport services, facilitation of multi-modal approaches to movement of cargo and persons, development of critical transport infrastructure that support trade as well as enforcement of good service standards and best practice across all transport modes at reasonable costs in Nigeria,” he posited.
Noting that Nigeria’s inland waterways of about 8,600km and stretches from Lagos and Port Harcourt to the northern part of the country, he argued that river ports could support decongestion of the seaports through quicker evacuation of containers to the hinterland by barges.
“I have no doubt that our nation’s inland waterways hold high values for the transportation sector. We must therefore put adequate measures in place towards harnessing their potentials through dredging and charting of the river channels, regulating inland waterways navigation, linking the river ports with the economic centers such as the Inland Dry Ports and Container Freight Stations, connecting the inland waterways with roads and the railways to facilitate movement of goods to and from the hinterland,” the NSC boss said.
Bello said he is delighted by the disposition of the Managing Director of NIWA Dr. George Moghalu towards the success of this business relationship between both agencies.
He encouraged NIWA to take its regulation into inland waterways towards developing indigenous technical and managerial capacity for barge operations.
Members of the NSC/NIWA Technical Committee include: Director, Regulatory Services, NSC, Ms. Ifeoma Ezedinma, Director, Inland Transport Service, NSC, Mrs. Ada Okam, Director Legal Services, NSC, Barr. Tahir Idris, Director, Consumer Affairs Department, NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu, General Manager, Legal Services, NIWA, Barr. Danladi Ibrahim, General Manager, Engineering, NIWA, Engr. Christopher Asindi, General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Engr. Joseph Ororo and the General Manager, Survey, NIWA, Surveyor Dennis Osamwuta.