.. Calls for stakeholders support
The managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu has disclosed that the agency has commenced the process of standardizing, regulating the operations of dredgers and boat operators in the country to ensure they comply with laid down rules and regulations and also to promote the safety of the waterways.
Against this development, Moghalu has urged the maritime stakeholders to support NIWA in their resolve to sanitise the waterways and also to key into some of their projects.
Speaking during a maritime stakeholders meeting in Lagos on Friday as part of his nationwide tour of NIWA offices and facilities, Dr. Moghalu stated that non licensed and rickety boats will no longer be allowed to operate on the nation’s waterways, including non-licensed boat drivers.
He restated the resolve of his management team to upgrade NIWA facilities nationwide, take the agency to an enviable height thereby leaving the authority better that he met it.
He stated that the Authority has banned night and early morning boat operations due to the high risk involved in such operations.
NIWA boss noted that a database for boat operators, dredgers, and other key players in the industry has been created to streamline their operations.
This will also help in checking criminal operators and boat drivers convicted in one region from moving to another region to operate in disguise, the MD said.
He explained that boat without onboard navigational facilities will henceforth not be allowed to operate on the country’s waterways.
Moghalu disclosed that the concession process of the Onitsha River Port is currently ongoing as the River Port is 100 percent completed awaiting the process to be completed.
He said the Baro River port is also 100 percent complete, but the issue of the access road is what is delaying the concession process as there must be access roads to the river port to make it attractive for concessionaires.
He regretted that that the Oguta River Port which is about 60 percent completed has been abandoned with the facilities provided left to rot away.
Moghalu said he has met with the Imo state Governor, Hope Uzodimma with a view to finding ways and funds to complete the project.
NIWA MD stated the agency has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU with an American company for the supply of life jackets to all the jetties in the country.
He added that NIWA is building six new jetties across the country, stressing that these jetties and rivers ports when completed will create employment opportunities for the country.
He said the feud with Lagos state government over control of waterways is being addressed at the highest level with a view to ensuring a win-win situation for all parties involved.
NIWA boss stated further that the agency is also looking inward to other means of income generation as a result of the fall in price of crude oil.
He said NIWA is continuing in its effort to sustain the cleaning of the waterways of water hyacinth and removal of wrecks to eliminate accidents.
Some of the stakeholders who spoke at the event raised the issue of return on investment, need for revolving fund for operators, security of the waterways, shallow nature of the waterways and the need for constant dredging of the waterways, among others.