The dredging of the lower partÂ Â Â of River Niger will commenceÂ Â by the end of July as against the earlier date of July 7, according to Mike Dike, General Manger, Engineering, National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.Dike disclosed on Tuesday in Lokoja that survey and other pre-dredging activities were currently going on along the portion of the river to be dredged.
He said that the portion of the river to be dredged was full of rocks, adding that if the rocks were not removed, they would constitute constraints to shipping.â€œAny boat that hits a rock can cause serious accident and such boats usually carry between 30 and 40 passengers, he said.
Dike said that the dredging would commence from the lower part of the river from Baro in Niger State to Warri in Delta State, a distance of about 574 kilometresHe said that more than eight million cubic metres of sand would be excavated from the river to enhanceÂ navigation, noting that successful dredging of the river would ensure all year navigation.
â€œAt present, you can hardly see shipping vessel plying the river between Lokoja and Warri but at the end of the dredging, vessels will be able to ply that portion of the river throughout the year,â€ he said.Dike told NAN that â€œcapitalâ€ dredging (major dredging of the river) would end in March 2010, adding that after that, maintenance dredging would be embarked upon for two years starting from March 2010.
â€œWe will keep on maintenance dredging, if you construct a highway you keep on maintaining it, otherwise it will deteriorate so we intend to continue the maintenance to ensure free movement. The contract for the dredging of River Niger was signed in 2008.
The general manager said that the authority was collaborating with relevant agencies to ensure the success of the project.â€œWe have been working with the Niger Basin Authority, NBA and other agencies because dredging is different from construction of dams,â€™â€™ he said.