By Yekini Jimoh in Lokoja
As flood ravaged some part of Kogi and Benue State which renderedÂ thousands of people homeless, the Chairman, Governing Board of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), retired Maj. Gen. Jonathan India Garba has commended President Buhari on the move to dredge River Benue to tackle the menace of perennial flooding that had over the years wreaked havoc across communities in the state.
The benefits of the proposed dredging according to him, include reduced risk of flooding, greater federal presence in the state, improved navigability of the water ways, increased value of water fronts and greater economic activities along the River Banks.
Garba, who gave the commendation yesterday in a statement issued by his aide, Mr. Adakole Ejegbudu, and made available to THISDAY in LokojaÂ thanked President Muhammadu Buhari for his prompt response to the recent flooding in Benue State and its environs which he noted, brought untold hardship to thousands of residents and destroyed property worth millions.
He noted that the visit of the Vice President, Prof Yemi Osinbajo to Makurdi at the instance of the President showed the Presidencyâ€™s commitment to the well-being of the ordinary Nigerians.
He said people across the state have received the announcement of the proposed dredging of the River Benue with a lot of excitement given the many benefits they stand to benefit when the River is fully dredged.
“The excitement generated by this announcement is understandable given that the River which in times past was a very busy waterway utilised for transporting people and goods between locationsÂ as far apart as Buruku in Benue StateÂ and Numan in Adamawa State has become filled with silt and other materials and is consequently unnavigable for long stretches,” he said.
He commended the National Inland Waterways (NIWA) for its efforts in keeping the nation’s waterways navigable.
According to him,Â they are committed to greater synergy with National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in the shared quest for the development and utilisation of the maritime endowments
“We at the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA ) are committed to fulfilling the mandate ofÂ the Cabotage regime in its four cardinal points which stipulate that vessels for coastal and Inland trade must be; built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians, manned by Nigerians and be registered in Nigeria.
“We have demonstrated our commitment to this byÂ recently unveiling theÂ New Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS ) and by the proposed amendment to the Cabotage Act of 2003 currently before the National Assembly.”
He said when passed into law, the amendment would strengthen the Cabotage regime to the benefit of Nigerians and also make the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund readily accessible to enable more citizens acquire vessels.