Sambo inaugurates inland waterways channel committee, says assets overdue for harnessing

  • Minister of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye (left), Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, and Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, Dr. George Moghalu, after the inauguration of the technical working group on inland waterways

By Anthony Nwachukwu

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has raised hopes for the harnessing of the Nigeria’s inland waterways, stating that they are abundant with economic potentials capable of revolutionising the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Sambo, who made the remark Friday in Abuja while inaugurating the Public Private Partnership (PPP) Technical Working Group (TWG) Proposal for Channel Management between Escravos, Onitsha and Baro ports on the Niger River, described the nation’s inland waterways as “cash cow long overdue for harnessing.”

“Providence has challenged me to put into reality what I went to China to pursue as an employee of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA),” he said. I went to China in 2016, 2017 and 2018.

“In my own case, I was marketing the waterfront lands owned by NIWA and we zeroed on the Marina NIWA Area Office, with proposal to reclaim that land to build a container terminal as well as passenger terminal for people passing through Apapa.”

According to him, the idea was that when containers come into Lagos, you don’t have to discharge those meant for Onitsha in Lagos, but rather transport them in barges or vessels that can traverse low draughts to Onitsha Port to be picked up by vehicles for distribution in the hinterlands

“The primary objective is to invest, maintain and operate a high-grade inland waterways channel between Baro River Port to Onitsha River Port, to Warri Port at the Niger River and onward connection to the Gulf of Guinea for a sustainable maritime transportation route.”

This will “lay a solid foundation for navigation network that would connect the Lagos ports, Lekki Deep Seaport with the Onitsha and Baro river ports for transportation of containerised and none-containerized cargoes for shipping efficiency in Nigeria.”

Sambo further observed that the value of such activities will help decongest Lagos ports, prolong the lifespan of the roads, reduce pollution and create a new mode of transportation by water, which in turn will not only engage civilians but security forces as the cargoes have to be escorted.

The TWG has responsibility to carry out legal, financial and technical due diligence on Messrs DIDs Ltd, home and abroad; and document every data and raw material collected from survey and the operational processes, for the purpose of security and future use, for the development of a robust Project Structuring Report (PRS).

Others include: X-ray policies applicable for the purpose of putting the inland waterways channel to economic use; and negotiate what is accruable to FGN/NIWA at every operations and any other responsibility as may be directed by the minister.”

The 18-member TWG has technocrats from NIWA, Nigeria Ports Authority and the Nigerian Navy, among others, with the Permanent Secretary, Federal Ministry of Transportation, Dr.  Magdalene Ajani, as chairman.

Others include NIWA Managing Director, Dr.  George Moghalu, as alternate chairman, and Deputy General Manager, Business Development, NIWA, Hassan Kaka, as secretary.

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