From Tony John, Port Harcourt
Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gemisola Saraki, has declared that Federal Government is committed to ensuring safety on Nigeria’s waterways. She said this at the commissioning of newly acquired vessels for the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), in Port Harcourt, Rivers State.
She disclosed that Federal Government purchased the boats to ensure smooth movement of vessels, and safety in the maritime environment. The minister urged NIWA to ensure that it harnesses its great maritime potential properly noting that a country such as Nigeria blessed with over 10,000 kilometres inland waterways.
She noted that the inland waterways are, verifiably, the cheapest and safest mode of transportation, adding that they equally play a critical role in the multi-modal transportation. Represented by the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, Saraki stressed that the vessels and other boats commissioned would aid in the security of waterways.
She stated that waterways must be dredged to achieve the required draft, adequate survey, mapping and charting with marker bouys and signal put in place with every necessary step taken to ensure safe navigation.
Earlier in his address, Moghalu, represented by the General Manager, Maritime Service, Mr. Joseph Ororo, reiterated that the huge opportunities that abound within the National Inland Waterways could only be maximized in an atmosphere of a strong regulatory framework. He expressed his joy that 28 out of 36 states in the country can be accessed by water.
He disclosed that the agency had purchased a tug boat, house boat, water ambulance and patrol boats, adding that two patrol boats among the vessels being commissioned were part of the 20 boats recently acquired and are being allocated to various area offices.
Harping on the advantage of water transportation, he noted that roads are choked with excess axle-loads that have resulted in very high cost of maintenance, and attendant loss of lives and property due to avoidable accidents. He stressed that, with the newly acquired vessels, security on the waterways would be enhanced.