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Inland waters cash cow overdue for harnessing – Sambo

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has described the nation’s inland waterways as a cash cow long overdue for harnessing, as they abound with…

The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has described the nation’s inland waterways as a cash cow long overdue for harnessing, as they abound with economic potentials capable of shoring up the country’s Gross Domestic Product. 

The minister made this known at the weekend in Abuja at the inauguration of the Technical Working Group (TWG) Proposal for Channel Management between Escravos, Onitsha and Baro ports on the Niger River on Public Private Partnership (PPP). 

Sambo said: “Providence has challenged me to put into reality what I went to China to pursue as an employee of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA). I went to China, 2016, 2017 and 2018. 

“In my own case, I was marketing the waterfront lands owned by NIWA and we zeroed on the Marina NIWA Area Office with a proposal to reclaim that land to build a container terminal as well as passenger terminal for people passing through Apapa.” 

According to him, the idea was that when containers come into Lagos, those meant for Onitsha would not be discharged in Lagos, but transported in barges or vessels that could transverse low draughts to Onitsha port to be picked up by vehicles for distribution in the hinterlands. 

“The primary objective is to invest in, maintain and operate a high-grade inland waterway channel between Baro River Port point to Onitsha River Port to the Warri Port on the Niger River and onward connection to the Gulf of Guinea for a sustainable maritime transportation route,” Sambo said. 

The minister observed that the value of such activities would lead to the decongestion of Lagos ports, prolong the life-span of roads, reduce pollution, and create a new mode of transportation by water, which in turn would not only engage civilians but security forces as the cargo would have to be escorted you don’t have to discharge.