By Praise Necherem
The managing director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Chief George Muoghalu, has reassured of the agency and federal government’s commitment towards making the nation’s waterways navigable enough for marine transport.
Muoghalu stated this in Onitsha, Anambra state during a stakeholders’ meeting, organised by NIWA, on the economic viability of the Onitsha River Port operations.
He said reactions generated by the maiden flag-off of the haulage of cargo from Onne Port to Onitsha River Port, penultimate week, was a boost to the agency, describing it as another milestone achievement for the intermodal transportation system in Nigeria.
He expressed optimism that the epoch revival of Onitsha River Port would generate substantial business activities and create employment opportunities through its operations, adding that other transport agencies would have a boom in Nigeria and South East in particular.
He said, “We are now more determined than ever to make more waterways navigable, to facilitate marine transportation across the country. In view of the growing transportation needs, particularly moving bulk commodities, containerised produce into the hinterlands, our country needs to focus on the development and harness the benefits of inland waterways.
“Besides creation of jobs for our youths, movement of cargoes will help greatly in reducing the congestion in our roads and sea ports through effective trans-shipment to our River Ports in the hinterlands, thereby reducing the incidence of road mishaps.”
While calling for private sector partnership with the agency for greater achievements, the NIWA boss urged relevant stakeholders, particularly members of Anambra business community and South East, to tap into the federal government initiative.
Earlier, president, Onitsha Chamber of Commerce, Industry, Mines and Agriculture, Sir Chris Ukachukwu, said commencement of full port activities would lead to massive economic boost and rapid industrialisation as well as reduce crime, youth restiveness, road traffic and logistic costs in the region.
He further called on federal government to urgently consider linking Onitsha River Port to the national rail network. “This is in line with global logistical best practices which would provide for the optimisation of multi-modal transportation capacity within the city and region,” he added.
Speaking on behalf of the Onitsha business community, a business mogul, Chief Godwin Okeke, praised President Muhammadu Buhari’s commitment to the development of the South East, particularly the Second Niger Bridge and the Onitsha River Port.
“We’re particularly happy for his appointment of an Igbo man for the first time as the head of NIWA. We’re hopeful that the port, when fully operational, will provide job opportunities for our teeming youths and grow our economy,” he said.