- Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer,National Inland Waterways Authority, Munirudeen Oyebamiji
By Anthony Nwachukwu
Towards a more efficient water transportation, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said it is determined to extend Nigeria’s navigable inland waterways from the current 3,000 kilometres to 5,000 kilometres by 2027.
The NIWA Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, Munirudeen Oyebamiji, who disclosed this to newsmen in a chat over the weekend, explained that though Nigeria has about 10,000 kilometres of waterways, “anytime you search via Google, you will always find out that only 3,000 kilometres are navigable.”
Therefore, “I have given the area managers a target of increasing navigable waterways to 5,000 kilometres.
“This means that as part of the deliverables, NIWA has to dredge an additional 2,000 kilometres of waterways to meet the targeted 5,000 kilometres of navigable inland waterways.”
Relatedly, Oyebamiji has asked the area managers for the number of jetties to add to what they already have, stating: “In the next four years, we need to know the number of jetties that we will want to build so that by 2027, we would have said that this number of jetties were built during this period.”
Meanwhile, as part of its yearly regional target, the Lagos Area will have to remove five wrecks on its inland waterways in 2024, license 2,200 boats and train 1,500 skippers. Oyebamiji explained that he gave each area a number of wrecks to remove and, “Lagos being our busiest area, has a target of five wrecks to remove yearly.”
To enhance navigational safety, especially for commercial transportation, NIWA disclosed that Lagos, being the hub of inland waterways activities in the country, has already been boosted with five patrol boats to monitor activities on its waterways.
“On boat operation, I expect 2,200 boats to be licensed yearly in Lagos, and I have charged the Lagos area manager to train and license 1,500 skippers yearly.
“All this was part of the targets I gave each area manager during our meetings to measure their performances in office on a yearly basis. This will let everybody have a sense of direction.”
With safety concerns ever imperative due to the activities of some violators of regulations, Oyebamiji said that five patrol boats have already been deployed to Lagos, being the agency’s busiest axis, to maintenance its physical presence on the waterways.
According to him, a patrol boat is strategically stationed at Badagry, Badore, Ikorodu, Ijegun and Marina, to cover the five axis respectively, and “the patrol boats have been deployed to monitor issues like over-speeding and overloading, among others. It is a way of increasing our presence on the waterways.
“We have also installed a gauge inside the water here at Marina to monitor wave movement and give us information on what to expect every day. The gauge has a range – from Marina to Badagry and Ikorodu.
“We are also looking at deploying some boats in the northern part of the country as accidents happen in this area due to the rickety boats being used, as well as water marshals across the country. This is already in place in Lagos, but we want to replicate it nationwide.”