With a background in law and public administration, Danladi Ibrahim has worked and risen through the ranks at the National Inland Waterways Authority. His experience so far, is his major weapon in his quest to finally put the organization on the right part as far as many issues are concerned.
You have to appoint a transaction adviser and they have to advertise…
The Onitsha Port is a concession that has lasted for a very long time, we admit. But the reason is that the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) took over funding of the concessionaire and their policy is cumbersome. You have to appoint a transaction adviser and they have to advertise for the concessionaires and so many other things. If National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) were handling the project it would have been completed. In any case, the process of concession is complete and we have picked the best competitive concessionaire so that any moment from now, the concessionaire will take over the port.
The Baro Port is also complete and the cargo handling equipment are being installed by German experts.
Lack of accessible roads has been one problem we have had to deal with…
Lack of accessible roads has been one problem we have had to deal with. To resolve that, we are in talks with the ministry of power, works and housing as well as other stakeholders. And by the grace of God, provision has been made to address the problems on the road that links Baro Port with the Lokoja-Abuja Expressway.
Lokoja Port is also 75 per cent complete. As a matter of fact, we had to fast track the process by engaging another contractor. The other port in Makurdi is on the drawing board too. It was awarded about two or three years ago but lack of funding delayed its take off. But it is in the pipelines now. As far as the Oguta Port is concerned, it would be completed this year too.
The Bill will create financial independence for the agency…
On channel management, since where there is a landing port, there has to be maintaining channels just like is the case with Nigerian Port Authority, we are in talks with some international companies who would partner with us and help maintain our channels. But our channel is longer than the NPA’s, we are talking about the distance from Lagos to Onitsha through to Warri, Lokoja and Baro, imagine the long stretch. On the whole, the on-going restructuring in NIWA is crowned with the new Bill that has been passed by the two chambers of the National Assembly. The bill will create financial independence for the agency so that we will no longer have to rely on government.
We are talking of flat bottom badges not ocean going vessels…
We do not need up to eight metres for the draft but the draft is up to eight metres. I say that because the river that flows through about 10 countries in Europe has an average draft of 2.5 metres. But we are talking of flat bottom badges not ocean going vessels which come with a 2000 metric tons capacity badge, equivalent to about 50 trailers.
The second Niger Bridge is also being constructed now, and all the equipment of the concession of this bridge was brought by Julius Beger via the River Niger from Lagos, the capacity of this badge is 2000 metric tons.
Government is just a landlord and a regulator…
The authority wants to start the movement of containers with badges. We are already looking at three companies, one of which wants to move containers from Apapa Tin-can to Mile 2 and from there, trailers then pick-up. Another wants to move cargo from Tin-can and Apapa to Epe and the last one will move to Warri using our dock yard in Warri. From all these points, trailers now pick-up to transport to other parts of the country.
Basically, government is just a landlord and a regulator, but the reason why we want to partake in the operation is because we want to convince the private sector that things are viable, we want to set the pace. Meanwhile we are talking to private the sector in these regards.
NIWA, year in year out, budgets heavily for water hyacinth clearance…
Water hyacinth is an international issue because water bodies flow from country to country. However, NIWA, year in year out, budgets heavily for water hyacinth clearance which we carry out both manually and mechanically on over 10000 kilometer waterways in the country. We intend to introduce boom to help. Boom is usually placed on channels so that when water hyacinth flows, they just hang there. We also intend to have an international conference on water hyacinth challenges so that we can negotiate collaboration with all countries along River Niger.
In Port-Harcourt, we had to use government money…
We have engaged some private companies that have submitted proposals to clear the abandoned vessels that have become wrecks on our waterways. In Port-Harcourt, we had to use government money to clear the wrecks. These wrecks are like water hyacinth that if not removed, will encourage another ship owner tomorrow to abandon a new one there and just run away.
We have twenty patrol boats…
NIWA as an agency of government has a police command attached to it. This we are using judiciously to tackle security issues in our own domain. Today, if you go by Lokoja you will see a new naval base. They use our own patrol boats and we collaborate and work together. And to deal with the issue of illegal activities on the waterways, we have twenty patrol boats, three in Lagos. We plan to buy more.
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