From Romanus Ugwu, Abuja
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu, has said that his biggest target is to decongest Nigerian road with the removal of over 100,000 trailers from highways.
Speaking to reporters in Abuja, the former All Progressives Congress (APC) National Auditor expressed excitement over the arrival of commercial barge to the Onitsha Sea Port in Anambra State.
While arguing that the roads will be decongested once the inland waterways in the country become operational, Moghalu, a governorship aspirant in Anambra State, reiterated NIWA’s commitment to the movement of cargoes and persons through the country’s waterways.
He further stated that the usage of waterways would avert the problems associated with infrastructural decay in the country.
‘In NIWA presently we are doing everything we can. For example, you may be aware that for 42 years Onitsha Port was designed and built, it was under my administration that the first commercial barge came there.
‘And we are doing everything we can to make sure that our river ports, those that are under construction are completed and functional because I believe very strongly that the only way you can address the issue of ports congestion, infrastructural decay is to make our water ways functional because all over the world, bulk cargo are either moved by water or rail.
‘Our roads are not designed to carry the pressure they carry. If the waterways are functional, over 60 to 70 percent of the containers that arrive Lagos and Onne Ports today have their final destinations either in Onitsha or Aba.
‘So, if we can take those ones that are going to Onitsha and move them through the waterways, if we take for example 50,000 containers out of the roads and move them by water, what we would have done is that we have removed 100,000 trailers from the roads and if we can do this and achieve it, I can assure you that we are good to go,’ he said.
While listing his achievement since he office last year, Moghalu said: ‘I can confidently tell you that we have built new world class jetties, in some places we bought some crafts, placed orders for dredging, we have improved on our sensitisation process, addressed the issue of navigational challenges and issue of accidents on our waterways.
‘We are going to deploy accidents ambulances to our various area offices and we have been able to improve very drastically on the morale of our staffs. As we speak now there was a salary review, as we speak we have done quite a lot of training and some training are ongoing and the beautiful thing about our training programme is that it is not limited to management staff.
‘We are even doing training for the least of the staffs at levels 04 and 06. We have also done aggressive restructuring of our headquarters. If you go to our headquarters now its quite different from when we came into office. So, we have done quite a lot in that regard,’ he noted.
Speaking further, he said: ‘Apart from the physical construction we are doing, water hyacinth is one of the major challenges we have on our waterways. We have done quite a lot of those clearings them. Water hyacinth is not a one off thing. It is not something you would do once and not do again. It is something that comes seasonally.’