June 17, 2009

River Niger Dredging: Group faults FG’s N4b order

By Godfrey Bivbere
The  directive by the    Federal Government to  the management of the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, to contribute N1 billion each for the dredging of the River Niger has been faulted by the leadership of the National Council of Managing Directors of Licensed Customs Agents, NCMDLCA.

President of the NCMDLCA, Mr Lucky Amewiro, who spoke with Vanguard on the issue, explained that while it was not out of place to ask the NPA to contribute to the dredging of the river, it is wrong to ask NIMASA whose function is capacity development of the shipping industry, to contribute to the fund.

Already, Vanguard can reveal authoritatively that NIMASA management has contributed the first instalment of  N750 million for the purpose. However, it was not clear as at press time how much NPA has contributed for the dredging project.

Head, Public Relations Unit of NIMASA, Hajia Lami Tumaka in a chat with Vanguard, confirmed that the agency has so far remitted N750 million for the purpose and it is as a result of a government directive to the management.
Similarly, efforts to get the head of Public Affairs Unit of NPA, Musa Ileya, on how much the authority had so far remitted for the project proved abortive, as he did not pick the call.

It would be recalled that the Federal Government late last year signed a N46 billion contract with five companies to dredge the lower parts of the River Niger, from Warri in Delta State, to Baro in Niger State. This could mark the beginning of unprecedented economic activities in those areas.

The project conceived 46 years ago, was meant to develop the nation’s water transport infrastructure. Its non-execution left many places that ought to be resonating with economic activities in their rustic state.
Unconfirmed report has it that there is budgetary provision made already for the project and are therefore expressed fears why the two government agencies are instructed to contribute N2 billion each to the same purpose.