Marine Committee of the House of Representatives has said that the completion of the dredging of the River Niger will be its major assignment alongside other main priority projects.
Chairman of the committee, Hon Ifeanyi Ugwanyi said this at the inaugural meeting of the committee and pointed out that the interest in the project was because of its potential to impact positively on the socio-economic development of the country.
He said, “this project, if properly harnessed, can positively affect socio-economic living in the country. The project will fall within our oversight priority in this Assembly.”
The dredging of the Niger River was flagged off in 2008 by the late President Umaru Yar’Adua and was expected to be completed early this year.
Ugwanyi stated that the ultimate objective of the project was to make the Lower River Niger, stretching from Baro Point in North Central Nigeria to the estuaries of the River Niger in Bayelsa state navigable with a draught of between 2 and 5.2meters.
Listing other areas of focus, the chairman added that as part of measures to decongest ports and reduce the stress of logistics for importers and exporters, the committee is also working on the take-off of the Inland Container Depots (ICDs) in Ibadan, Aba, Jos, Bauchi and Kano.
The representative said that attention would also be given to the development of maritime academics for the training of seafarers so that ships plying the nation’s territorial waters would be manned by Nigerians.
As part of efforts to make the nation’s waterways safe, Ugwanyi continued, the committee would facilitate the provision of a sustainable and effective apparatus for the removal of wrecks and derelicts on Nigeria waterways.
“They (wrecks and derelicts) pose a marine navigational hazard, especially, those located within our major ship channels. Various agencies of government have tried carrying out removal of wrecks, it has not been successful. There is need to streamline the efforts.”