Kogi State government has been called upon to exploit the enormous potential in waterway transport as a means of creating jobs and opening up the state for tourism.
Making the call in Lokoja, the Kogi State capital in an exclusive interview with Vanguard, Deputy General Manager in charge of Corporate Affairs of the Nigeria Inland Water Waterways Authority (NIWA), Tayo Fadile, said the use of the waterways would reduce over reliance on road transport.
Fadile said “I think this is where we want to appeal to the kogi State government to come alive and be up and doing. Kogi State government, as well as the six or seven local government surrounded by water. The state is the hub of water waves in this country because the river Niger and Benue met in kogi State; that is why it is called the conference state.”
“Kogi State must have its own Inland Waterways Transport System, be it boats, yachts, ferries and vessels or even canons. To my amazement, Kogi State does not have one single canon and I think it is most disappointing.”
Continuing, Fadile said the dredging of the River Niger, movement from Lokoja to Onitsha by water takes just three hours. He said going by road from Lokoja to Ontisha takes about five hours and above depending on the condition of the road.
He said “I expect by now that Kogi State government should have vessels that move people to Ida, Ibaja and even to Onitsha by water.”
He, however, added that “National Inland Wave Authority is ready to partner and render all necessary technical assistant for the accomplishment of the task.”
The NIWA spokesman noted that a trip from Aghenedode in Edo State to Ida in Kogi State takes just 25 minutes to cross the water here to either side of the river, while it takes an hour and half should one travel by road. He explained that but for the presence of NIWA in Lokoja when flood ranged some part of the country, the effect on the state would have been worse.
“He argued that if not for the presence of the National Inland Waterways Authority at Locoja there would have been pathetic news as regarding the unexpected flood that engulfed some localities, as seven rescue vessels were deployed to areas that were flooded.”