The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) International Conference and Exhibition in Lagos that took place earlier on this week focused on Nigeria’s waterways. The main stakeholders present spoke of the need for utilization of inland waterways as very critical to the evacuation of cargoes and decongesting the ever-busy roads.
The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, pointed out the network of rivers, creeks lagoons and lakes as being great resources. He also advised the private sector to invest on the same as it is a guarantee for profitable investments. NIWA’s Managing Director Boss Mustapha said the agency is focused on developing inland ports for cargo handling and passenger operations. According to him, this will help in the creation of connectivity for multimodal transport linkages (Road-Rail-Waterways-Sea) transport.
Moreover, the Authority has commissioned an in-house project team to embark on a continuous dredging of the entire waterways in Nigeria. He further added that construction and installation of cargo handling equipment at the Baro, Lokoja and Oguta Ports are scheduled for completion. Along with the ports are a number of jetties and landing platforms in many communities along the waterways.
Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) the Managing Director Hadiza Bala Usman, said inland waterways are an integral part of the nation’s multimodal system. She also used Apapa as an example, stating the need to do dual network (Inland waterways and rails) to move cargo.
According to a global report prediction, the seaports transport are set to quadruple by 2020. Nigerian inland waterways, according to Usman, will thus need to position itself to benefit from the huge traffic projections. This is because, according to Mrs Dabney Shall Homa, an Industry chief, the Inland waterways cannot operate in isolation, but must be connected to the seaports in other to maximize the benefits. She also called for a conducive policy that would encourage private investors coupled with incentives.