…Says new Bill to enhance NIWA capacity, boost revenue profile
The Federal Government through its ministry of transport, on Tuesday expressed hope that a Public Private Partnership (PPP) would achieve and sustain huge investments in the nation’s river ports.
The Honorable Minister of transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, while speaking on the occasion of the second NIWA International Conference and Exhibition (NIWA ICE) themed “Improving Navigability and Inland Port Development for Sustainable Investment on Nigerian Waterways,” which held at the Oriental Hotel in Lagos, said deliberations from the conference would help establish sustainable investment as navigability of the waterways corridors get improved, and the development of the nation’s inland ports and jetties.
The minister said that the concessioning of the Onitsha River Port would be completed before the end of 2017 and adding that “adequate budgetary appropriations have been made to ensure the completion of the Baro, Lokoja, and Oguta River Ports within the lifespan of this administration.”
While making known the in-house efforts by NIWA on dredging maintenance of the Ajaokuta to Onitsha channels of the River Niger, which is saving the nation huge cost, the minister urged NIWA to procure bigger dredgers to improve on its efforts.
Amaechi also said that the amendment of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Bill would boost not just the capacity of the Authority but also its revenue profile, and enable it to become self-sustaining.
According to the minister, the amendment of the NIWA Bill “has gone through third reading at the Senate and there is hope that the House of Representatives will also support and endorse the new Bill.
Amaechi continued that, “In essence, the Bill will enhance the capacity of NIWA to enforce her rules and regulations, resolve the present crisis with her sister parastatals and other government agencies and boost the revenue profile of the Authority, in order to make the authority self-sustaining.”
Speaking also, the Managing Director of NIWA, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said the conference aimed at positioning NIWA and its “current focus and strategies towards promoting inland shipping/navigation and inland port operations by its teeming stakeholders.”
The NIWA Boss added that the conference also served as a platform to enable stakeholders understand government policies in the sector, as well as give room for them to share their views, observations and levels of support and compliance to government activities on the waterways.
He noted that the critical focus remained “improving navigation on the waterways and the development of inland ports for cargo handling and passenger operations, in order to create connectivity for multimodal transport linkages (Road-Rail-Waterways-Sea transport).”
In his goodwill remarks, Dr. Pat Asadu, the Chairman House Committee on Ports, Harbours and Waterways, commended NIWA’s new commitment at using its available resources to improve on its responsibilities.
Asadu said he was confident that NIWA would make possible the platform for investments in river port services, which is capable of generating jobs and improving revenue for government.
Other goodwill messages were given by the Nigerian Shippers’ Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority, and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), while the Nasarawa State Government was represented.
The main highlight of the NIWA ICE 2017 was the unveiling of the NIWA Harvester Vessel (FX-11B) and the Aquatic Vegetative Cutter (AVC)- Swamp Devils 1,11 and 111, which is used in clearing water hyacinths on the waterways to improve navigation.