Despite claims that it has completed full dredging of the River Niger and the channels open for transportation since last year, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has awarded six fresh contracts worth N9 billion in which three are dredging contracts.
But in a swift reaction yesterday, the agency’s spokesman, Mr. Tayo Fadile, told LEADERSHIP that the dredging contracts were only maintenance in nature, maintaining that capital dredging of the Niger had indeed been completed two years ago.
The fresh contracts came on the heels of allegations of low utilisation of the Niger River after N36 billion had been expended in earlier dredging project, started during the Yar’ Adua Administration. That effort has reportedly not yielded the need results.
In spite of the billions of naira already spent in dredging of the River Niger, water transport on the channel has remained elusive.
“Capital dredging of the Niger has been done. What we are doing now is maintenance dredging. In fact this is the second phase of the maintenance dredging exercise. The first was done last year.
“The minister of transport accompanied us by boat and saw that the channels are okay. If we are building a jetty or a river port, that of course is not dredging,” Fadile told our correspondent through the telephone yesterday.
LEADERSHIP gathered that the new contracts include the construction of a new river port in Lokoja, to Messrs Inter Bau Construction for N4.1 billion with a completion period of 57 weeks; the dredging of the channel along Orashi River from Oguta Lake in Imo State to Degema in Rivers State awarded at the sum of N2.03 billion to Messrs Simidia S. & I. International Company Ltd, to be completed within 12 months; and the construction of Okrika jetty to Messrs Johnmostainless Nigeria Limited worth N438 million, to be completed within nine months.