NIWA says River Benue dredging to commence by 2019

The dredging of River Benue and the development of Makurdi port will commence by 2019 as part of efforts to harness commercial activities on the Nigerian waterways, the National Inland Waterways Authority(NIWA) has disclosed.

Speaking to newsmen, the Acting Managing Director of NIWA, Danladi Ibrahim, said that the development of inland waterways system in Nigeria has improved in the three years.

According to him, “from 2015, we have changed the face of Nigerian inland waterways in the sense that the Organisation has embarked on direct maintenance dredging of our channels which is a very cheap way of maintaining the waterways unlike the previous practice.

“We have also completed one of our major port in Baro, and the one in Lokoja is over 75 per cent completed, besides that we have also put in programmes for the channel management of the River Niger and Benue.

"Our expectations from the 2018 budget is that we intend to complete Lokoja port.

Ibrahim revealed further that, “we are also going to buy batches to start moving cargoes from Lagos port to Onitsha and Baro, we are going to buy additional dredgers to enhance our capacity for in-house maintenance dredging of the channels, the ports will be completed before the end of the year, as soon as the budget implementation start, we will swing into action, Onitsha has been concessioned already, so operations will start any moment from now.

He added that "We will also complete Oguta port in Imo state before the end of the year, the port is 70 percent completed, so we are looking at Lokoja and Oguta ports to be completed in 2018, but in 2019 we will commence the development of Makurdi port”, clarifying that the ports are to be developed in phases.

He reaffirmed that many jobs would be created when the ports become operational. “When‎ Onitsha, Lokoja and Baro ports come into operation, more than 2000 direct and indirect jobs will be created in the country.

He said that the ports would be connected with rail for efficient utilisation.