By Godwin Oritse
The Acting Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, Danladi Ibrahim, on Monday disclosed that the Onitsha river port in Anambra State has been concessioned to two companies and that the port may commence operations before the end of 2018.
Ibrahim said among the four existing river ports, two would be commissioned by the President before the end of the year.
Though the MD declined to disclose the names of the concessionaire for the river port project because the award letters are yet to be issued to the operators of the facility, the NIWA boss noted that the concession agreement will last for a period of 25 years.
According to him, “The concession has been completed, we open the financial bid on the 3rd of July and we have picked the most competitive concessionaires and any moment from now they will take over.
The NIWA boss said that skeletal operations is ongoing at the facility hence the concessionaires will take over the facility to commence full blown operations soon
Speaking on Baro port, Ibrahim assured that the road linking Abuja will be taken care of by relevant agencies, adding that the facility has been completed by 75% as the cargo handling equipment designated for the project are being installed by a German firm.
Ibrahim explained further that the dredging and concession of the two ports were awarded at the same period noting that vessel cannot load consignment when dredging is ongoing.
He added that “Government maximize the use of the resources of 12 major rivers in the country.
The lower River Niger was not left out, as capital dredging from Warri to Baro, covering a distance of 572km, has been concluded.
“It is apt to mention that NIWA ‘s achievement under Ameachi ‘s watch have become so enormous, mindful that it was within the present administration that the Baro river port reached 95% completion level, as government aims to provide cargo handling equipment and turn the basin into a river port.
“Already, work is on going to enable barges discharge their goods effectively is going on at Baro port. Also the cargo handling equipment for the Baro River Port are on going.
“It is our hope to see the full concession of the Onitsha River Port before the end of the year, completion of the Lokoja river port and supply of cargo handling equipment at Baro river port.
“We believe this will complement activities at the Lokoja river port and create multiple benefits with attendant multiplier effects on the economy, particularly in promoting multi modal transport and cheaper coastal service across 28 states of the federation.