BY YUSUF BABALOLA, Lagos –
The Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has pledged to partner with National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to develop and make the nation’s inland water ways economically viable, NIMASA Chairman, Retired Maj -Gen. Jonathan Garba, said.
The pledge was in a statement by Garba’s Personal Assistant , Mr Adakole Ejegbudu, on Sunday in Lokoja. Ejegbudu quoted the NIMASA boss as saying “the partnership would focus on how to make the existing 10,000 kilometres of inland waterways in the country navigable.”
Garba also said the development and utilisation of waterways, which cut across 28 states in the country, became necessary to complement ongoing efforts by Federal Government to link all states by rail. He lauded Federal Government’s decision to dredge River Benue after successful dredging of the upper River Niger.
According to him, dredging the river will reduce the risk of flooding, improve navigability of the water ways, increase value of water fronts and promote economic activities along the river banks, as well as the coastal communities He said that the recent flooding in Benue and Kogi should not be allowed to repeat itself by ensuring timely execution of the dredging plan. The NIMASA chairman commended President Muhammadu Buhari for the quick response to the plight of Benue flood victims, which he said prevented the situation from getting out of hand.
“The President’s directive to National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) to provide emergency aid to the flood victims brought succor and prevented the situation from deteriorating further. “The visit of Vice President Yemi Osinbanjo to Makurdi showed the Presidency’s commitment to the well-being of the people and is in keeping with his loyalty and exemplary leadership demonstrated in the President’s absence.” Garba said NIMASA remained committed to fulfilling the mandate of the Cabotage regime in its four cardinal points which stipulated that vessels for coastal and inland trade must be built in Nigeria, owned by Nigerians, manned by Nigerians and be registered in Nigeria. According to him, the new Cabotage Compliance Strategy (NCCS ) and the proposed amendment to the Cabotage Act of 2003 currently before the National Assembly when passed into law would strengthen the Cabotage regime to the benefit of Nigerians. It would also make the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund more accessible to enable more citizens to acquire vessels, he added.