The federal government has assured stakeholders that the Onitsha River Port will commence operation in no distant time.
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Mohgalu, made this disclosure in Onitsha, during the second sensitisation seminar of stakeholders by NIWA within South East Zone, themed: “Reforming the Maritime Sector in Onitsha Priority Areas, Potential Projects and the Way Forward, in Onitsha, Anambara State.
Moghalu’s promise is coming after many such failed promises by the past and administration of President Muhammadu Buhari.
Moghalu said the present administration will in few months conclude the concessioning process for the effective take-off of the Onitsha River Port, adding that the federal government is equally committed to assisting genuine investors to access the Cabotage Vessel Financing Funds in order to boost investment in shipbuilding and repair.
He also said NIWA has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU), for provision of modern life jacket to ensure the hazards in maritime transportation is reduced to the barest minimum.
He added: “The federal government is committed to pursuing the expansion of the nation’s river port system through the development of other river ports to be driven by the private sector including development of Baro and river ports.
“The government interest in ensuring the safety and security of the nation’s waterways, informed the repositioning of NIWA to partner with the Nigerian Navy and other relevant security agencies in addressing security challenges especially in the Gulf of Guinea.”
Moghalu described water transportation as the most environmentally friendly and most cost-effective mode of transportation.
He called on shipping practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to invest more in water transportation, assuring them enabling environment to boost coastal trade.
“Nigeria’s coastline of about 853km offers opportunity for high economic activities for cargo and passenger transport as well as fishing activities. Government is equally committed to assisting genuine investors to access the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund in order to boost investment in shipping building and repairs. Investments in agriculture, mining, solid mineral and manufacturing would bring about the required economic self-reliance, ”he added.
The NIWA boss regretted the spate of abuse of the waterways, including erecting structures along waterways, vowing to put an end to such abuses.
“We will be constituting a task force later in the day that will be saddled with the responsibility of pulling down illegal structures along the waterways. People should stop creating opportunity for us to destroy their property. The law is very clear on the consequences of abuse of waterways, ”he stated.