According to the government, the inland waterways in Nigeria have about 10,000 miles of potential navigable routes, but only 3,000 miles are presently in use.
It disclosed this in its ‘National Development Plan 2021-2025: Volume I.’
It said, “The inland waterways in Nigeria are reported to have about 10,000 miles of potential navigable routes out of which only 3,000 miles are presently navigable.
“This leaves much room to explore the potentials in inland waterways as an alternative and cost-effective means of transport connectivity.”
According to the Federal Government, the nation’s transport infrastructure is constrained by insufficient funding, an unclear regulatory framework, and a lack of multimodality.
It added that the transport infrastructure was inadequate for the size of the economy and its future economic ambitions.
However, it said by 2025, Nigeria would upgrade its current infrastructure to ensure economic efficiency, social equity, and environmental sustainability.
It said, “Nigerian ports will become the preferred destination in West and Central Africa through deliberate collaborative strategies to grow throughput, improve safety and security, leverage technology to improve efficiency and the ease of doing business.
“Additionally, the inland waterways will serve as an alternative cheap mode of transportation to decongest the seaports and deliver cargo closer to the hinterland.”
In its national development plan, the Federal Government added, “The objectives and targets for this sector are anchored on the development of at least two deep seaports and five inland dry ports to decongest existing ports and increase inter-port competition to reduce costs.
“Additionally, investments will be made to reduce the waiting time of vessels, increase the speed of documentation and clearing, and increase overall throughput and ship registry tonnage. Key strategies include: implement process infrastructure upgrade to make the Nigerian ports the main destination for shipment in west and central Africa.
“This will include the full implementation of the WTO Trade Facilitation Agreement to reform ports procedures, especially those relating to transit cargo. Improve navigation and safety of vessels within the port limit. Achieve efficient port operations through complete automation of port management systems.
“Contribute to the growth and diversification of the national economy. Ensure safer waterways and a more secure maritime domain. Achieve comprehensive compliance with international maritime instruments (IMO and ILO) for enhanced maritime safety and security.
“Enhance safety, security on the Inland Waterways while improving integration with other modes of transport and creating the enabling environment to attract private sector participation in the sub-sector that would contribute to the diversification of the economy.”