The Federal Government has described the nation’s inland waterways as veritable channels for Nigeria’s prosperity.
The government said the waterways were long overdue for harnessing, with economic potential capable of revolutionising the country’s economy through the creation of thousands of jobs across multiple sectors and wealth for citizens.
The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, made this known in Abuja at the inauguration of the Technical Working Group on the proposal for channel management from Escravos to Onitsha and Baro Port on the Niger River on a public-private partnership platform.
“I am the most excited man in the world today because providence has challenged me to bring into reality a project I had long conceptualised as an employee of the National Inland Waterways Authority,” he said.
According to him, the idea was that when containers came into Lagos, they would not have to discharge there but transport them in barges or vessels that could traverse on low draughts to Onitsha port to be picked by vehicles for distribution in the hinterlands.
“The primary objective is to invest in, maintain and operate a high-grade, well-secured inland waterways channel from Lagos to the hinterland for the movement of cargo, thereby decongesting the ports of Lagos, ensuring a long life span for our roads, lowering pollution levels, creating diversified jobs for our people, drastically reducing the cost of imported goods while making our exports competitive in the international market,” Sambo said.
Speaking further, Sambo said that Nigeria could learn from the United States of America’s example, where “the economies of 38 states depend on inland waterways for the movement of about 630 million tonnes of cargo annually valued at over 73 billion dollars.”
He said it was interesting to note that 28 states of Nigeria were connected by water.