NIWA to boost inland waterways regulation with introduction of new code

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has commenced moves to launch a code for the regulation of the use of the nation’s inland waters.

Speaking at the recently concluded 2014 stakeholders’ conference on the economic use of the Onitsha River Port, NIWA’s Managing Director, Hajia Inna Ciroma, said the code launch was long overdue.

Ciroma explained that the new code will also serve as guide on the use of the waterways for operators.

She said that the need to regulate the use of the nation’s waterways cannot be overemphasized considering the security challenges that have been facing the nation in recent times.

General Manager, Public Relations Department of the organisation, Tayo Fadile, said that NIWA will still have to go through several layers of approval before the code can become functional.

“Besides the approvals that NIWA is waiting to get, the authority will also have to carry its relevant agencies along in the entire process. The code when finally approved will stem the indiscriminate use of the waters and check the excesses of illegal dredgers,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Federal Government through NIWA has commissioned an Indian firm, Messrs Green Stratus Consulting as Transaction Adviser for the concessioning of the Onitsha River Port.

Disclosing this to participants at the 2014 NIWA’s stakeholders conference, Transport Minister, Senator Idris Umar said that the Transaction Adviser was billed to meet with a project delivery team by mid-February to work out the modalities for facilitation of the concessioning process of the port.

The minister, who was represented by the Permanent Secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transport, Engr Nebolisa Emordi, urged importers and businessmen in the eastern part of the country to begin to tap into the potentials of the port with a view to reducing the cost of transporting their cargoes.

He said that the initial process employed by government to concession the port had to be cancelled after that the World Bank met with the Infrastructure Concession Regulatory Commission (ICRC) to re-design the process so as to accommodate other River ports across the country.

Emordi said that out of the 19 firms that bid to be Transaction Advisers, only six were shortlisted with Green Stratus emerging as preferred bidder.

“The World Bank in consultation with ICRC cancelled the initial process since an agreement has not been signed. It then initiated a Traffic Demand Study to determine the viability of the Onitsha River Port, this was concluded in 2012 and the findings showed that the port is viable.

“Consequently, the ICRC in conjunction with the World Bank re-designed the PPP process which now includes the other ports under construction at Baro, Lokoja, and Oguta with each taking its turn on the PPP platform as soon as it is completed starting with the commissioned Onitsha port.

“The re-designed process entails appointing a single Transaction Adviser who will also prepare the Outline Business Case and the transaction documents for each of the ports at the instance of the World Bank.

“The redesigned single-project option for all the ports has since been endorsed by the World Bank and has become operational with Onitsha River Port as a pilot scheme,” he said.