By Kenneth Jukpor
As part of efforts to boost the contribution of waterways to the nation’s cargo distribution and address the factors mitigating against the development of inland waterways transport in the nation, Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) have inaugurated a joint Technical Committee.
The 8-member committee which has the responsibility to attain seamless movement of goods and persons via the country’s inland waterways, comprises Directors from NSC and General Managers from NIWA.
Speaking at the inauguration exercise earlier today, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr. Hassan Bello charged the team to be diligent even as he stressed that the task if done properly could bring enormous economic benefits for the nation.
His words: “Recall that one of the critical functions of Shippers’ Council is the consideration of problems faced by shippers with regards to inland waterways transportation of goods and to advise the government on possible solutions thereto. The NSC in playing this role and in addition to its economic regulatory function has the responsibility of ensuring seamless and effective cargo movement along the transport chains, reduce costs and facilitate trade.”
Bello said these responsibilities support the Council’s continuous quest for collaborative partnerships with relevant agencies to drive programs and projects that would change the nation’s logistics chain.
“Our target is to ensure the availability, affordability, stability, predictability, adequacy and accessibility of transport services, facilitation of multi-modal approaches to movement of cargo and persons, development of critical transport infrastructure that support trade as well as enforcement of good service standards and best practice across all transport modes at reasonable costs in Nigeria,” he posited.
Noting that Nigeria’s 8,600km inland waterways stretches from Lagos to Port Harcourt up to the north, he argued that river ports should support decongestion of the seaports through quicker evacuation of containers to the hinterland by barges.
“I have no doubt that our nation’s inland waterways hold high values for the transportation sector. We must put adequate measures in place towards harnessing their potentials through dredging and charting of the river channels, regulating inland waterways navigation, linking the river ports with the economic centers such as the Inland Dry Ports and Container Freight Stations, connecting the inland waterways with roads and the railways to facilitate movement of goods to and from the hinterland,” the NSC boss said.
Bello stated that he was delighted by the disposition of the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu towards the success of the business relationship between both agencies, however, he encouraged NIWA to take its regulation into inland waterways towards developing indigenous technical and managerial capacity for barge operations.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NIWA who was represented by the General Manager, Marine, Engr. Joseph Ororo stated that it is pertinent that the sector is adequately standardized to ensure safe, secure and efficient service delivery of barge operations amid efforts to decongest seaports and facilitate multi-modal approach to cargo evacuation.
He revealed that NIWA has licensed eight companies to begin barge operations from Lagos to Onitsha using barges.
“We are so glad with this development. The Committee has been setup and NIWA recently held a meeting with stakeholders on safety and other regulatory aspects of inland waterways transportation,” Ororo said.
Members of the NSC/NIWA Technical Committee include; Director, Regulatory Services, NSC, Ms. Ifeoma Ezedinma, Director, Inland Transport Service, NSC, Mrs. Ada Okam, Director Legal Services, NSC, Barr. Tahir Idris, Director, Consumer Affairs Department, NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu, General Manager, Legal Services, NIWA, Barr. Danladi Ibrahim, General Manager, Engineering, NIWA, Engr. Christopher Asindi, General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Engr. Joseph Ororo and the General Manager, Survey, NIWA, Surv. Dennis Osamwuta.