By Godwin Oritse
THE FederalÂ Government hasÂ commenced moves to construct 11 river ports and 21 jetties across the country with a view to boosting the economic activities of states where these ports are located.
The move to build these ports was a result of government’s decision toÂ dredge the River Niger, a project that successive governments have failed to execute following the vehement opposition to dredging the river.
Disclosing this, participants at the 9th National Council meeting on transport, the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA), Architect Ahmed Aminu Yarâ€™Adua said that the objective of the project is to create a channel of 60 metres that would ensure all year round navigation between Warri in Delta StateÂ and Baro in Niger State, a distance of about 572 kilometres.
Yarâ€™ Adua also said that the first phase of the project which is capital dredgingÂ is expected to be completed between January and February 2010, while the second phase, maintenance dredging will commence immediately after the dredging.
The aim of the project, according to the NIWA boss, is to shorten distance and time of travel on the this route.
He, however, commended the managements of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA)Â and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) for their financial support to the project, adding that the project will also boost the Cabotage law in the country.
â€œIt is particularly noteworthy and welcome development that sister agencies – NAP and NIMASA – have fully cooperated in obliging financial support for the dredging project,â€ he stated.
The river ports, Vanguard gathered will be built in Baro in Niger State, Lokoja in Kogi State, Onitsha in Anambra State, Oguta in Imo State, Okwagbe in Edo State, Yenogoa in Bayelsa State, Agenebode in Edo State, Makurdi, Benue State, Numan in Adamawa State and Idah in Kogi State.
While the 21 jetties will be built in Eket, Nwaniga, Port- Harcourt, Igbokoda, Yauri, Shinkatu, Kpata, Ilushin, Asaba, Aboh, Ibi, Lau, Baruka, Ndoni, Opobo, Owerinta, Sagbama, Atani and Numan.
It would be recalled that some states in the Niger-Delta area were vehemently opposed to the dredging of the Niger River to protest the effect the project may have on their areas particularly the riverine areas.
Vanguard further gathered that the project will also boost the movement of container cargoes within the Eastern axis of the country thereby reducing pressure on the Lagos seaports.