By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
National Inland waterways Authority (NIWA) yesterday commenced maintenance dredging of Ajaokuta-Onitsha Channel on River Niger.
The Minister of Transport, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi while flagging off the maintenance dredging at Julius Berger Jetty in Ajaokuta said NIWA was making progress by maintaining the channel in-house , thereby saving the country some millions of naira in the area of skill utilisation and empowering its staff.
The Minister commend the managing director of NIWA for his initiative in putting to use the dredgers acquired some years ago and now decided to make use of them through the Staff thereby updating themselves professionally.
He stressed that he hoped to see the full Concession of the Onitsha River Port before the end of the year, completion of the Lokoja River port and supply of cargo handling equipment at Baro River Port.
“These I believe will complement activities at the Lokoja River Port and crest multiple benefits with attendant multiplier effects on the economy, particularly in promoting multi-modal transport and cheaper coastal services across 28 States of the federation.
“With this, National Inland Waterways Authority is now poised to improve the navigability of the waterways, increase the value of water fronts and generate economic activities along the River banks as well as the riverine communities” he said.
He promised that the National Inland Waterways Authority would make their efforts and other Waterway users seamless as possible by further deepening the channels and ensuring that the Ajaokuta-Onitsha route was navigable all the year round.
Earlier, the Governor of Kogi State, Alhaji Yahaya Bello in his speech during the flag off said the dredging covered a distance of 162km from Ajaokuta to Onitsha adding that it was intended to keep the waterways between the two locations navigable all year round.
The governor also disclosed that it would reduce the menace of flooding on communities by clearing the waterbeds of obstructions.