From Noah Ebije, Kaduna
The Director General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Yusuf Jamoh, has disclosed that unknown to many Nigerians, river Kaduna harbours huge deposits of raw gold, other mineral resources as well as varieties of fishes that are very delicious compared to those underneath the sea.
Dr Jamoh however corrected the impression that there can’t be maritime activities in the north because it has no sea, saying that it is all about dredging the waterways for economic activities.
Addressing Reporters at the weekend in Kaduna, the Maritime Boss cited an example in Egypt where artificial lakes are converted to maritime activities, adding that the north should begin to think outside the box and dredge its waterways for socio-economic gains.
“Majority of people do believe that since we don’t have a sea in the North we don’t have maritime, that is not correct. If you go to Egypt, it’s an artificial lake they use, you see this River Kaduna, it’s a river. If we dredge it, we would make better use of it. It is as good as the sea.
“Whatever resources you can have in our sea, you can have it there. The maritime asset you can have in our sea, you have it here in river Kaduna. That is where you will get things like gold, copper, everything, under the water. We don’t harness it.
“So many things you are seeing at the sea, you can get it at River Kaduna. So all we need to do is try to assess what and what do we have in the river? You see that River Kaduna underneath, there are a lot of things including gold.
“It is a matter of conducting the research, there are also a lot of things that we are using to produce medicine for hypertension, diabetics, such things come underwater, it doesn’t matter we have to be at the sea, the same water that harbours such things at sea, we can have the same things in inland waterways
“So, I begin to wonder why all these years, we never try to look at the River Kaduna beyond what the River Kaduna should provide. We should be able to see a lot of things in River Kaduna across that line.
“Each time I pass through the River Kaduna, I see Dollars and Pounds, Euro flowing away but I cannot fetch them. Because all that we are getting or achieving with Athena Sea can equally be gotten from the inland waterways.
“If we dredge the River Kaduna, we are going to generate a lot of income across the value chain of water resources. It will open up tourism business along the river banks and generate both direct and indirect employment.
“Aside from the tourism business, the resources under the water are enormous: there are a variety of fishes underneath the water most of which are even sweeter and healthier than those we get in the sea because they are exposed to natural foods.
“The fishes we have are plenty, some of the fishes we have is better than the one we are getting from the sea. It’s just like the hybrid chicken and the local one. If you eat them you know the taste is not the same. It’s not the same. So the same thing with this one. When you do the one called fountain fishing, and then you have the natural one, people eat natural food there, so if they taste the sweetness.
“So if you’ve so many fishing trawlers, and as the owners of the fishing trawlers, people will work with the fishing trawlers, that fish that you’re bringing, the fish itself how you prepare it, whether you dry it, whether you produce it in a tin, or other things, for large production, all these are an economy standing on its own. That is only fish. You didn’t check for other resources, those that are underwater. Because some of the inhabitants, they can survive on top of the water, some at the middle, some deep down, because they wouldn’t want sunlight, so they survive down. Till you dive under, you will not know what’s there.
“Also we can develop transportation system for communities across the river. This is not limited to only river Kaduna but other rivers across the country. We have over 10,000 km of inland waterways that can be developed. The sea is less than a thousand kilometres so there is real economic potential in the inland waterways.
“So, I think the media up North, should be up and doing, in trying to propagate what we have here. To educate the local populace, to educate the Governors, that they should make use of such opportunities.”
“I just met Kogi State Governor, Yahaya Bello this week and I told him I need to build an office in Kogi. One, the issue of accidents we’ve been experiencing, even recently the last one we had in Kano, you can imagine about 40 lives, lost. It shouldn’t be so.
“We should be able to be conscious of our safety, we should be able to educate. You are entering your car, they say you must use a safety belt. How can you enter a canoe without a life vest? If there is an accident in the canoe, you float when you have your life vest. Even in aircraft, you still fasten your seat belt. But you enter the canoe, nobody to enforce that.
“I want to see how we can be able to start enforcing that, and it is the duty for people like you to change the psyche, to change the character of people in the Northern part of Nigeria, to understand the better use of our own resources in our inland waters.
“Nigeria is Nigeria, regardless of where we come from. But what is disturbing me, the issue of maritime industry in Nigeria is lagging behind up North.
“So we must think outside the box. We need to do the dredging of that water, we have to have a short term, medium-term and long term plan for us to harness the resources of our own inland waterways. There are no better people to educate most of the Northern populace apart from you Journalists. You are the ones that have that responsibility to educate them.
“I am telling you what we’ve in our inland waterways is an economy on itself. If you say you are going to harness it, it is okay to give thousands of people means of livelihood., either directly or indirectly,” Dr Jamoh stated.