By Isiaka Oyibo
LOKOJA – PRESIDENT Umaru Musa Yarâ€™Adua, yesterday in Lokoja, flagged-off dredging of the lower River Niger just as he gave approval for the construction of seven additional sea ports to boost socio-economic activities in the country.
Speaking while flagging-off the commencement of the project at the dockyard of the National Inland Waterways in Lokoja, President Yarâ€™Adua remarked that the commencement of the project was a clear manifestationÂ of his administrationâ€™s determination to face up to Nigeriaâ€™s infrastructural and developmental challenges.
He said, â€œThe projects, upon completion, would further affirm the deliberate, meticulous and methodical results-oriented learning that has been the hallmarks of our developmental initiatives.
â€œThe dredgingÂ of RiverÂ Niger represents a key component of this administrationâ€™s policy on the comprehensive development of the transport sector. We do recognise the critical place of an integrated and efficient inter-model transport system in our national transformation efforts,â€ he added.
The President said, â€œtheÂ approved ports constructions of seven inlands ports are to be located in Agenebode, Idah, Yenagoa, Baro, Lokoja, Aguta and Ogbabe. Onitsha River Port, he promised, will be rehabilitated and expanded with a river training institute added.
It is capable of supporting sustained growth levels in enhancing the competitiveness of our national economy.â€
This scheme, which coversÂ a distance of 572 Kilometres from Warri, in Delta State, to Baro in Niger State would, when completed, ensure all year round navigability of River Niger.
â€œThese projects will help to decongest our ports, particularly the Lagos and Port HarcourtÂ portsÂ and reduce the stress on our roads. The cumulatingÂ results would be the re-awakening of the hitherto comatose inland shipping maritime sub-sector to its full potentials,â€ the President said.
The president then directed the two contractors, Messrs fung tai Nigeria andÂ Messr dredging internationalÂ to ensure the completion of the projects by the end of January next year.
Aside this the president said it would provide cheaper and safer means of haulage of goods as well as promotingÂ commerce and trading activities between adjoining communities by peoples of the eight states adjoining the lower Niger river.