Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), George Moghalu, has assured of Federal Government’s determination to make the nation’s waterways more navigable to facilitate marine transportation across the country.
Speaking at a stakeholder meeting on the economic viability of the Onitsha River Port, yesterday, Moghalu assured that NIWA was ready to make the environment more conducive to encourage the business community.
He urged importers, exporters and marine transport companies to embrace government’s efforts at developing the water transportation system into the hinterland.
Moghalu disclosed that the Federal Government had embarked on massive revival of the nation’s waterways to remove impediments that hindered previous initiatives in making waterways navigable.
“In view of the growing transportation needs, particularly the movement of bulk commodities and containerized products into the hinterland, Nigeria needs to focus on the development and harness the benefits of the inland waterways.
“Currently, the Onitsha River Port is nearing congestion, which is an indication of the volume of cargo expected to be hauled on the inland waters. The port is currently undergoing continuous improvements. The route from Onne Seaport to the Onitsha River Port is also undergoing similar improvements,” he noted.
Earlier in her welcome address, Area Manager of NIWA, Onitsha, Queen Uba, said the government had developed the Onitsha River Port to provide alternative means of carrying cargo into the hinterland.
She urged the stakeholders, including captains of industries and the business community, to patronize the port and make the dream a reality.
Also, President, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture (OCCIMA), Chris Ukachukwu, expressed the hope that the commencement of full activities at the Onitsha River Port would boost economic activities, especially trade and commerce, as well as create employment for the youth.
Ukachukwu also noted that there would be rapid industrialization, adding that exporters, importers and manufacturing concerns have shown interest in the port.
He, however, raised some concerns about the operation of the port like whether the port has been gazetted as a final destination, if there were plans for dredging the River Niger channel and the security architecture on ground, among others.
A representative of the business community in Onitsha, Chief Godwin Okeke, said the port would create jobs for the youth and urged the business community to seize the opportunity and improve their businesses.