Amaechi, Yahaya Bello Flag Off Dredging The River Niger In Ajaokuta. The dredging of the River Niger from Ajaokuta to Onitsha was flagged off Transportation Minister Rotimi Amaechi at Ajaokuta in Friday. Present at the flag-off of the maintenance Dredging of River Niger Along Ajaokuta – Onitsha Waterways Channel in Ajaokuta,Kogi State were Managing Director National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA) Boss Mustapha, Honourable Minister of Transportation, Chibuike Rotimi Amaechi, Governor of Kogi State. Yahaya Bello, Deputy Governor of kogi State, Elder Simon Achuba and Secretary to the State Government of Kogi State, Dr. Mrs. Ayoade Folashade Arike.
The minister said that the maintenance dredging would enable the country reap the benefit of the N36 billion investment in the project.
He said that the dredging, apart from enhancing economic activities in the host communities, would also lead to increased social activities in the communities.
He said that the National Inland Water Ways (NIWA) would be empowered with qualified personnel to carry out the maintenance dredging of the 572-kilometre channel of the river.
“This is the best form of administration you can get that is being ingenious because we don’t have money to pay any contractor,” he said.
The minister directed the NIWA to include the cost of a bigger dredger in the organisation’s 2018 budget.
Amaechi described River Niger as very important and strategic channel that links the Northern region to the Southern region of the country.
He said that special allowances would be made for the NIWA workers handling the job in next year’s budget.
“It would have cost us billions to carry out this dredging. So, if we are saving that money, we should set aside some money that will encourage them to continue to do the work.
“I will like to reiterate that this government under the leadership of President Muhammadu Buhari seeks to fulfil its campaign promises to make Nigeria a great Nation that will cater for the needs of its citizenry.
“In this regard, it is our hope to see full concession of the Onitsha River Port before the end of year,” he said.
The Minister also said that the completion of the Lokoja River port and supply of cargo handling equipment at Baro River Port were being given deserved attention.
The Managing Director of NIWA, Mr Boss Mustapha, said that the maintenance dredging on Ajaokuta-Onitsha channel had become necessary to enhance the conduct of businesses on the river.
He said that the NIWA possess the necessary manpower and technical knowhow to execute the project through direct labour.
Mustapha said that the decision would save the country from incurring huge expenses in the face of dwindling resources occasioned by economic recession.
The Nigerian Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, earlier disclosed plans by the federal government to launch the dredging of the 162 km Ajaokuta-Onitsha waterways on April 28, in Kogi.
Addressing newsmen in Abuja on Tuesday, Amaechi said that the dredging was an initiative of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
The Minister commended the Managing Director of NIWA for the initiative, adding that already, the organisation had mobilised its dredgers to carry out maintenance dredging on the Ajaokuta-Onitsha waterways, to ensure smooth navigation of barges and vessels.
“This is a good idea; the NIWA Boss tries to get back our old dredgers to do the dredging by ourselves, not by contract, because we do not have money to award contract.
“Those companies that can use barges can move their freight; it is 2.5 metres raft. We just want the waterways to be navigable,’’ the minister said.
He said that the move would go a long way in facilitating the transportation of freight to the eastern part of the country.
The first phase of the project would include 80 metres radius from the ramp, 250 metres upstream and 50 metres down stream.