*** Onitsha Port ready for cargo
By Harry Awurumibe, Editor Abuja Bureau
The Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu has revealed that over 65 percent of cargoes coming into Nigeria through the Lagos ports namely Apapa Wharf and Tincan Island, end up in the big commercial cities of Onitsha and Aba in the Southeast geopolitical zone of the country.
He also disclosed that everything is in place for the movement of cargo from Lagos Ports to Onitsha River Port after a successful trial of movement of cargoes from Onne Port to Onitsha in barges although he explained that it is the owner of the cargo that will determine the movement.
Moghalu made these disclosures on Thursday when he featured at the 52nd Session of the State House Briefing organised by the Presidential Communications Team, at the State House, Abuja.
The NIWA boss who was providing updates on the agency’s activities since he was appointed by President Muhammadu Buhari, however noted that the current road network infrastructure cannot withstand the sheer volume of traffic required to move cargo from the southeast to other parts of the country.
This, he said, necessitated recent efforts by NIWA to provide water inroads to the northern part of the country.
According to him water transportation would help to reduce the weight of the heavy duty traffic on the Nigeria roads and also generate revenue for the country.
Moghalu lamented the menace of floating debris in vital Nigerian waterways, pointing out that the authority spends a fortune annually to rid the waterways of nonbiodegradable wastes such as
Pontederia crassipes commonly known as water hyacinth, plastic and rubber materials.
He was however silent on the specific amount NIWA has spent in clearing the waterways.
He also said that work has commenced at the Oguta River Port which he said was abandoned for 13 years, adding that perimeter fence has been erected at the place and the port now segmented.
Meanwhile, the federal government is to procure South African surveillance
technology for the nation’s waterways security.
Moghalu said NIWA is working on an agreement to secure technology for monitoring and securing the nation’s Inland water ways from South Africa.
According to NIWA boss with the technology, the authority can monitor the movement of vessels anywhere in the waterways.
He said the South African firm whose name he did not reveal, exchanged visits with NIWA and the authority informed them of the challenges faced in their effort to provide security in Nigeria’s waterways.
He said the company affirmed that they could help because of the type of technology available, which is currently being deployed in South Africa.
According to him, “We visited them and they visited us and we now presented our challenge because we want to be in a position to monitor all our waterways and they have the technology.
“There is a technology they are going to deploy so that I will be in the control room in Lokoja and be able to monitor all the vessels that operate in our waterways.”
He said despite talks of insecurity, survey has commenced on Lake Chad to open it up as an inland water transportation hub to access other African countries.
Moghalu said the fact that the survey is ongoing is an indication that insecurity prevailing in the region has been sufficiently addressed.
He said NIWA is working in collaboration with the Nigeria Navy for the project.