42yrs after, NIWA commissions Onitsha commercial barge

By Ezeocha Nzeh

The Managing-Director/Chief Executive Officer of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu,  has expressed the commitment of the agency decongest Nigerian roads with the on-going revolution being witnessed in the nation’s water transportation sector.

Moghalu, who expressed excitment over the arrival of commercial barges in Onitsha, Anambra state, stressed that with the development Nigerian roads would be decongested of articulated vehicles.

The NIWA boss, who spoke on the activities of NIWA in Abuja, argued that the Lagos ports would be decongested once the inland waterways in the country become truly operational.

The former National Auditor of the ruling All Progressives Congress (APC), who has also expressed his interest once more in the ticket of the party for the November governorship election in Anambra state, reiterated NIWA’s commitment to the movement of cargoes and persons through the country’s waterways, adding that the usage of waterways would avert the problems associated with road infrastructural decay in the country.

“In NIWA presently, I am doing everything I can. For example you may be aware that for 42 years after Onitsha Port was designed and built, it was under my administration that the first commercial barge came there. 

“And we are doing everything we can do to make sure that our river ports, those that are under construction, are completed and functional because I believe very strongly that the only way we can address the issue of ports congestion, road infrastructural decay, is to make our waterways functional, because all over the world, bulk cargo are either moved by water or by rail.

“Our roads are not designed to carry the pressure they carry presently. If the waterways are functional, and since over 60 to 70 percent of the containers that arrive at the Lagos and Onne ports have their final destinations either in Onitsha or Aba, we can take those ones that are going to Onitsha and move them by water.

“If we take for example 50,000 containers out of the roads and move them by water, what we would have done is that we have removed 100,000 trailers from the roads (to and from the ports) and if we can do this and achieve it, I can assure you that we are good to go.” 

Expressing satisfaction with his achievements in the past one year as head of the nation’s waterways agency, Moghalu stated: “I can confidently tell you that we have built new world class jetties, in some places we bought some crafts, placed orders for dredgers, we have improved on our sensitisation process, addressed the issue of navigational challenges and issue of accidents on our waterways. 

“We are going to deploy accident ambulances to our various area offices and we have been able to improve very drastically on the morale of our staffs. As we speak now, there was a salary review going on. As we speak, we have done quite a lot of training and some training are on-going and the beautiful thing about our training programme is that it is not limited to management staff.

“We are even doing training for the least of the staffs at levels 4 and below.

“We have also done aggressive restructuring of our headquarters. If you go to our headquarters now, it’s quite different from when we came into office. So, we have done quite a lot in that regard.

“Apart from the physical construction we are doing, water hyacinth is one of our major challenges we have on our waterways. We have done quite a lot of clearing of these. Water hyacinth is not a one-off thing. It is something that comes seasonally.”

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