“Use water ways to ease transportation challenges,” – Rotimi Ameachi

Aliyu Othman, Abuja

Nigerians have been asked to use the Inland Water Ways to ease transportation in the Country.

The Minister of Transport, Chief Rotimi Ameachi said in Abuja while speaking on Voice of Nigeria’s programme “In The News” that the dredging of River Niger up to Baro in Niger State had been completed.

He said Nigerian Businessmen need not wait on government to provide Badges for them but should actually exhibit enterprise and entrepreneurial prowess of fully utilising the water ways.

Chief Amaechi noted that Chinese businessmen on their own, had shown interest and invested in the inland water ways. He therefore urged Nigerians to also show interest and invest in their own country’s infrastructure.

“It’s not about publicity. How did the Chinese come and approach us? They came and said we can do inland water ways and inland transportation and did feasibility studies that showed that Baro is too shallow to be dredged further. They then passed through Baro to Lokoja and from a point, you will see water but from Onitsha the water has silted.”

He said that from 2017, government would embark on de-silting of the River Niger that was completed at 2.5 meters, to make it more attractive and fully usable by Nigerians and other investors interested in inland water ways transportation.

Maritime Security and Safety
The Transport Minister assured Nigerians that it will no longer be business as usual in the maritime sector as measures are being put in place to check insecurity and raise the revenue base of the sector.

Chief Ameachi said: “if I tell you what measures we will take to achieve security in the region, the man we will go after will say, oh you are coming after me … rest assured that it won’t be the same again. They knew that once they made me the Minister of transportation, I’m from the South-South they know what I did in Port-Harcourt to restore security, we’ll do it again.”

The Minister called on the private sector to invest, not only in maritime but also in inland water ways transportation, for the desired impact in the transport system in Nigeria.

Railway lines upgrade
The Transport Minister said the Kaduna-Abuja rail line will be ready for commissioning in July this year and will start commercial activities as part of measures to ensure improved and easy means of transportation.

Chief Ameachi said “the Lagos-Kano rail line modernisation would be executed in phases, with Lagos-Ibadan and Ilorin-Minna as well as Lagos-Calabar.”

He said the problem of starting the rail projects was money and the China EXIM Bank has agreed to provide the needed funds to make the project a reality. More than four trilloin naira is required to fully finance the project.

“Don’t forget its about 20 billion dollars, if you go by parallel market that is 6 trillion naira and by official market about 4 trillion naira. These are concessionary loans so the interest is very minimal and is the best deal Nigeria can get.”

Chief Amaechi also acknowledged that the administration never anticipated the level of damage they met, which has been exacerbated by dwindling revenues from crude oil sales. The Minister however, urged Nigerians to be more patient with President Muhammadu Buhari’s government to enable it to diligently fulfil its campaign promises.