Nigeria’s Inland Waterways Authority is set to strengthen the desired machinery towards deriving the benefits of investment in coastal and Inland Shipping operations to attract investors.
This comes on the heels of the deliberations of the government agencies and stakeholders at the 2nd International conference and Exhibition tagged “NIWA ICE 2017” held in Lagos.
Speaking on the theme: “Improving Navigability and Inland Ports Development for Sustainable Investment on Nigerian Waterways”, the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi said the conference was to project NIWA to the outside world, develop a platform to attract investors, sensitise the public on the Authority’s gamut of activities and investment opportunities.
Amaechi stated that the network of rivers, creeks, lagoons and lakes are great resources to Nigeria that needed to be maximally utilised by the private sector.
According to him, “these bodies of internal waters are used to facilitate movement of economic goods and persons with great revenue generating and eradication of poverty through employment opportunities that came along with the economic use for navigation”.
” it is very topical and relevant to the activities and operations of NIWA and I hope at the end of the conference, we should be able to establish sustainable investment through improvement of the navigability by opening up of the corridors of our waterways and also to the development of our inland ports and jetties”.
The transport minister commended on the activities of NIWA towards the progress recorded over the amendment of NIWA Bill at the National Assembly.
Earlier, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer, NIWA, Boss Mustapha emphasised the modernising of inland water infrastructure and vessels for safe and sustainable water transportation in Nigeria.
Mustapha said that NIWA ICE will become a bi-annual event designed to promote the use of inland waterways transportation as a competitive alternative mode of transport in Nigeria, through discussions, consultations and sharing of ideas with stakeholders in a conference setting and exhibition of the most modern facilities and operational skills for inland waterways transport.
“This event provides a forum for the National Inland Waterways Authority to display its current focus and strategies towards promoting inland Shipping /navigation and inland ports operations by its teaming stakeholders”.
“It also affords the stakeholders to fully understand government policies in the sector and to relay their views, observations and levels of support and compliance to government activities on the waterways” he said.
The NIWA Boss who said that the Authority has commissioned an in-house project team to embark on a continuous dredging of the entire waterways in Nigeria, noted that construction and installation of cargo handling equipment at the Baro port, Lokoja port, Oguta port and a number of jetties and landing platforms in many communities along waterways this year.
He stated that NIWA was also restructuring to create functional departments and business units that would specifically handle the potential public-private-partnership agreements on concessions.
In the same vein, the chairman, house committee on ports, harbours and Inland waterways, Hon. Pat Asadu said he was not too keen about the success by NIWA towards getting the acceptance of her Bill .
He explained that the bill was to strengthen its natural institutional capacity, diversify its activities, remove operational conflicts with other sister agencies.
Hon. Asadu said NIWA was poised to attract investment, develop infrastructure, diversify its services and most of all to bring back the past glory and significance of inland waterways transportation and waterfront ventures as a major contributor to Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product, GDP.
The event which is under the auspices of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, hosted by NIWA with attendance and support of other sister Agencies such as the Nigerian Shippers Council, the Nigerian Ports Authority, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency amongst others.