By Ikeugonna Eleke
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterway Authority, NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, has assured that the Federal Government is committed to making the Onitsha River Port functional in no distant time.
Moghalu stated this during the 2nd Sensitization Seminar of Stakeholders by NIWA under the theme; “Reforming the Maritime Sector in Onitsha, Priority Areas, Potential Projects and the Way Forward”, held at Onitsha, Anambra State.
The Onitsha River Port was built in 1983, renovated and commissioned in 2012 by former President Goodluck Jonathan, but yet to be fully operational.
Moghalu speaking at the event, stated that the present administration would in few months conclude the concessioning process for the effective take off of the Onitsha River Port, adding that the Federal Government was equally committed to assisting genuine investors to access the Cabotage Vessel financing funds in order to boost investment in ship building and repairs.
‘The Federal government is committed to pursuing the expansion of the nation’s river ports system through the development of other river ports to be driven by the private sector, including development of Baro River Ports and Lokoja River Ports.
‘Government’s 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,’ he said.
Describing water transportation as the most environmentally friendly and most cost-effective mode of transportation, Dr Moghalu, called on shipping practitioners and other relevant stakeholders to invest more in water transportation.
‘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 ship building and repairs.
‘Investments in agriculture, mining, solid mineral and manufacturing would bring about the required economic self-reliance,’ Muoghalu said.
The NIWA boss however 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. Thelaw is very clear on the consequences of abuse of waterways,’Moghalu warned.