Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has disclosed that the ongoing dredging of inland waterways in Lokoja, Kogi State and Oguta, Imo State are 75 per cent completed.

NIWA, in a statement on Monday by its Public Relations Officer, Mr Jibril Dardau, noted that the agency has achieved a lot in the development of inland waterways system in Nigeria since 2015 when the present regime came on board.

According to him, “Having completed one of our major ports in Baro in Niger State, we are currently working on the port in Lokoja, Kogi State and it is almost 75 per cent completed. Besides that, we have also put in programmes for the channel management of Rivers Niger and Benue.

“That apart, our expectations from the 2018 budget is that we intend to complete the Lokoja port, so also intend to start the actual river training works of Baro to Lokoja. We are also going to buy batches to start moving cargoes from Lagos port to Onitsha and Baro.”

Dardau, said: “We are going to buy additional dredgers to enhance our capacity for in-house maintenance dredging of the channels. The port will be completed before the end of the year, as soon as the budget implementation starts, we will swing into action.

“Onitsha has been concessioned already, so operations will start any moment from now. We will also complete Oguta port in Imo State before the end of the year. It is 75 per cent completed, so we are looking at Lokoja, Oguta ports to be completed in 2018 but in 2019 we will commence the Makurdi port, we develop port as the needs arise, in phases.”

He added: “At the time Onitsha, Lokoja and Baro ports come into operation, more than 2,000 direct and indirect jobs will be created because the operations of these ports would attract infrastructure like farms, the port will be connected with rail, companies within the ports will also be handy to utilise this ports.

“The dredging maintenance from Ajeokuta-Onitsha will be done this year as soon as the budget is ready for implementation. We just completed the maintenance dredging from Baro to Idah in Kogi State and we are acquiring additional two dredgers from our 2018 budget and every year we will be adding until we have a poll of sufficient number of dredgers that we can maintain.”