The Federal Government has taken a more pragmatic approach towards making the Onitsha River Port functional, saying that in no distant time it will be functional.
This was disclosed on Monday in Onitsha by the Managing Director, National Inland Waterway Authority, NIWA, Dr. George Mosfffghalu, during the 2nd Sensitization Seminar of Stakeholders by NIWA within South East Zone, themed, “Reforming the Maritime Sector in Onitsha Priority Areas, Potential Projects and the Way Forward, held at C.J. Patterson Hall, All Saints Cathedral Onitsha, Anambra State.
Built in 1983, renovated and commissioned in 2012, by former President Goodluck Jonathan, the Onitsha River Port is yet to be fully operational, as some equipment have been provided at the Site.
Dr. Moghalu however, stated that 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 that 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.
“The Federal government was 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.
“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.”
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, 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.”
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. The law is very clear on the consequences of abuse of waterways.”
Earlier in her address, the General Manager, NIWA Onitsha Area Office, Mrs. Telma Obi, said that Onitsha Area office is encouraging all stakeholders who may not possibly understand how NIWA can help them navigate their interest the good of all.