The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said it has licensed eight companies to begin barge operations from Lagos to Onitsha.
Managing Director of NIWA, George Moghalu disclosed this during the inauguration of the NIWA and the Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) joint Technical Committee put together as part of efforts to address the factors militating against the development of inland waterways transport in the country..
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.
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 for proper integration of barge operations into the nation’s transportation system to help decongest the seaports and facilitate multi-modal approach to cargo evacuation.
“We are so glad with this development. The Committee has been set up and NIWA recently held a meeting with stakeholders on safety and other regulatory aspects of inland waterways transportation,” Ororo said.
Earlier, the Executive Secretary of NSC, Hassan Bello charged the team to be diligent, while stressing that the task if done properly could bring enormous economic benefits for the nation.
He said, “Recall that one of the critical functions of the 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 has the responsibility of ensuring seamless and effective cargo movement along the transport chains, reducing costs and facilitating 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 face of 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 said.
Noting that Nigeria’s inland waterways of about 8,600km, stretches from Lagos and Port Harcourt to the north, he argued that river ports could 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 therefore 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 centres 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 said he is delighted by the disposition of the Managing Director of NIWA towards the success of this business relationship between both agencies. He, however, urged NIWA to take its regulation into inland waterways towards developing indigenous technical and managerial capacity for barge operations.