Judex Okoro, Calabar
The Obong of Calabar, Edidem Ekpo Okon Abasi Otu V, has called on the federal government to overhaul the water transportation sector in the country to boost rural development.
Edidem OtuV, who made the call when the management of Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority,NIWA, led by the Managing Director, Mr George Moghalu, paid him a courtesy visit in his Palace at the weekend, decried the dearth of water transportation in the country over the years, saying “it was the best because it was safer.”
He said: “The country became so rich that it abandoned the water transportation sector and advised the new management of NIWA to revive the sector so as to ameliorate the suffering faced by the people.
“We found new love in our new oil wells and we forgot that water transportation has been useful in building our economy especially at rural level of development. it’s not too good for the country.
“Water transportation will ameliorate our problems and if you can over-hall it, we will be pleased because we will not be bothered about the highways. Now is the auspicious time to open up the waterways again in order to boost the economy of our rural populace”, Edidem Abasi Otu V, said.
He also called on NIWA to ensure that the Maritime Academy of Nigeria, MAN, Oron is also revived so as to train personnel that will be engaged in the boats, ferries and jetties as was the case in times past when the water transportation sector was still working
Earlier in his remarks, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, Mr. George Moghalu, said water transportation is critical to the nation’s development.
Moghalu, who was accompanied by principal officers of the regulatory authority, said water transportation is eco-friendly, adding that the only way they can decongest our roads and ports is to make our waters constantly flowing.
He said: “If 1, 000 containers from Lagos are going to the East, it amounts to 1, 000 trailers on the roads and the only way we can make our roads last is to make these trailers pass through our waters.
“No matter the amount of investment we do on our roads, it will be limited if we don’t improve on our water transportation. Once we do that, our economy will be better for it and that’s why we are here in Calabar, to see areas where we can improve on”, he said.
He promised to sustain JIWA”s relationship with major stakeholders in the sector to improve Nigeria’s water transportation, assing that NIWA will provide life jackets at all jetties in the country to ensure safety in the waterways.
He added that NIWA will also partner with private organization to bring in more ferries into the Cross River/Akwa Ibom routes so as to improve water transportation in both states.