By Steve Agbota
Transport Minister Mu’azu Jaji Sambo has described the nations’ inland waterways as cash cows to be exploited for a long time, as they abound with economic potentials capable of revolutionizing the gross domestic product (GDP) of the country.
The Minister made this known today in Abuja during the inauguration of the Technical Working Group (TWG) proposal for the management of the canal between Escravos, Onitsha and the port of Baro on the Niger River within the framework of a public-private partnership (PPP) agreement.
Speaking further, Sambo said, “Providence challenged me to put into reality what I went to China to pursue as an employee of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA. I went to China in 2016, 2017 and 2018. In my own case, I was marketing the waterfront land owned by NIWA and we focused on the regional office of Marina NIWA with a proposal to recover this land to build a container terminal as well as passengers. terminal for people passing through Apapa”.
According to him, the idea was that when the containers arrive in Lagos, you don’t have to unload those destined for Onitsha in Lagos, but transport them in barges or vessels that can cross shallow drafts up to to the port of Onitsha to be picked up by vehicles for distribution. in the hinterland.
“The main objective is to invest in, maintain and operate a high quality inland waterway channel between Baro River Port Point and Onitsha River Port to Warri Port on the Niger River and further connection with the Gulf of Guinea for a sustainable maritime transport route a solid foundation for the navigation network that would link the ports of Lagos, Lekki Deep Seaport with the river port of Onitsha and Baro for transport of containerized and non-containerized cargoes for efficient shipping in Nigeria,” Sambo said.
Sambo observed that the value of these activities will lead to the decongestion of the ports of Lagos, extend the life of the roads, reduce pollution and create a new mode of water transport, which in turn will not only engage civilians. but also the security forces. cargo must be escorted.
The TWG terms of reference include; perform legal, financial and technical due diligence on MM. DIDs Ltd at home and abroad. Documentation of all data and raw materials collected from the survey and operational processes, for purposes of security and future use for the development of a solid project structuring report (PRS).
Applicable radiological policies for economic operation of the waterway. Negotiate what falls to the FGN/NIWA at each operation and any other responsibilities that may be ordered by the Minister. The 18-man TWG includes technocrats from the National Inland Waterways, Nigeria Ports Authority, Navy, among others, with the Permanent Secretary for Transport, Dr. Magdalene Ajani, as Chairman, Chief Executive Officer, NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, as Alternate Chair. , Deputy General Manager, Business Development, NIWA, Hassan Kaka as Secretary.