By Ignatius Okorocha
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has proposed N6.6 billion as capital components of its N7.3 billion 2021 budget estimates to upscale development of inland water transportation in the country.
Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, made the disclosure, when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Marine Transportation for defence of 2021 budgetary estimates of the agency on Tuesday.
Moghalu also appealed to the Senate to enact necessary legislation to help the agency develop and increase inland waterways in the country.
He said: “In line with the economic recovery growth plan of President Muhammadu Buhari, the authority reiterates its determination, now more than ever, to upscale the development of Inland Water Transportation in Nigeria.
“I therefore seize this opportunity to appeal to the Senate to use your good offices to ensure and facilitate a conducive financial and legal environment that would provide the boost needed for NIWA to achieve its full potential”.
He said the N6.6 billion capital component of the agency’s 2021 budget was essential to the completion of all ongoing projects.
He also said the budget would also enhance revenue generation for the agency.
Moghalu told the Senate committee that the agency could not achieve actual project implementation in 2020 because of the delay in capital releases occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said N737 million of the budget proposal was for personnel estimates of the ministry for the fiscal year 2021.
NIWA boss lamented that water hyacinth and wrecks have continued to pose major challenges to the development of the nation’s waterways.
“When we look at our2019, 2020 and even 2021 procurement which the budget we are presenting before you will see that we have a provision constantly reflected which removal of wrecks and water hyacinth.
“But the challenge our Agency has is the reoccurrence of water hyacinth. If you clear water hyacinth now the next moment you they resurface. Where they are coming from, you don’t know and when we inquired they said it comes from Dahomey. They said they travel and cover the water ways that is why when you look at eye budget they dominate our budgets for the past 10 years.
The Chairman of the Committee, Sen. Danjuma Goje (APC Gombe) said the proposed 7.3 billion by NIWA was designed to help the agency complete projects that have lingered in the last five years.