THE National Inland Water ways Authority (NIWA) has unfolded an inland waterways transportation master-plan capable of effectively jump-starting the much needed multi-modal transportation system in Nigeria.
This is also coming as a response to what has become a perennial traffic gridlock on the Lagos ports access roads, which has not only defied solutions for years now but has destroyed the road infrastructure and the environment architecture as well as businesses around the Apapa ports communities.
Speaking with the media in Lagos, the Acting Managing Director of NIWA, Barr. Ibrahim Danladi, disclosed that the agency had consummated a relationship with some Chinese firms who are ready to help the agency build a modern bonded terminal at Oyingbo Jetty, Lagos to where containers can be moved from Apapa and Tin can Ports on badges and transported by either rail or road to destinations or move by water ways to Onitsha and Warri at the eastern part of the country.
According to him, there is also a plan to transform their Marina, Lagos office into an ultra-modern superstructure as a terminal where sea going vessels can berth and off-load cargoes.
He said: “We are going to have super structure here like in Dubai. We have almost concluded an arrangement with a company to move cargoes and passengers from Lagos, Nigeria to Tema in Ghana and their take off point in Lagos will be here in Marina. So, there is going to be a relationship between Nigeria and Ghana through the movement of cargo and persons.”
Explaining why NIWA had to begin a direct investment in the sector instead of opting for private-public partnership (PPP) he said that investors shy away from investing in the sector because inland water transport is under-developed in Nigeria.
He stated: ‘‘Since the private sector is not interested let the Federal Government show the way by leading by example.
“If we lead by example and we are sure it is viable, doable and profitable then the private sector will queue in. It will become more attractive when government says that there are certain categories of goods that must not be moved by road. You will be given three years moratorium after which no petroleum product must be transported by road.
They either use rail or inland water transportation. Also, no cement must be moved by road because they kill the roads and cause accidents and claim lives whereas we can move them faster, safer, and cheaper by rail or water,” he added.
He also noted that through one of their Chinese partners they had identified a shipping company that can ship cargo to Nigeria from China and then be transported by waterways to destination.
Consequently, they had agreed to bring in 20 badges and some tugboats to commence operations so that they could use them to attract private sector investors into inland waterways transport.
He stated further: ‘‘We are currently speaking with three companies to move cargo from Apapa, Tin Can to Mile 2 where trailers can now pick the cargo. One wants to move cargo from Tin Can and Apapa to Epe and from there trailers will pick.
‘‘There is another one that wants to move cargo to all the way to our dockyard in Warri from where trailers can now pick and move to other parts of the country by road. Basically, government is just a landlord and a regulator. The reason we want to partake in the operation is because we want to convince the private sector that these ventures are viable.”
On the agency’s preparedness against robbery and piracy at sea, the NIWA boss stated that they had acquired 20 patrol boats which are spread all over the 20 Area offices of NIWA in the country.