The federal government’s bid to concession the N4.6 billion Onitsha River port, Anambra State has been mired in controversy as parties challenge the integrity and fairness of the bidding process.
The controversy which is already stalling the completion of the project was confirmed by the newly – appointed managing director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Sen. Olorunibe Mamora .
The Onitsha River port, which was built by ex-President Shehu Shagari and rehabilitated by ex-President Goodluck Jonathan at N4.6billon in 2012, has been completed.
The raging controversy has however, forced the supervising ministries in the exercise to force a break on the conclusion of the process and further allowing the multi billion naira project to further deteriorate.
Speaking to LEADERSHIP recently, Mamora who said, there was a huge challenge before the Authority in concessioning and commissioning, confirmed he had read about petitions written by some people who were aggrieved but would soon visit the river port for on the spot analysis.
He said, “Well it’s premature to give you a rundown (about Onitsha River port) because am yet to visit myself and i have had some preliminary briefing but there is a popular saying that it’s good to see something once than hear it ten times.
“I will want to see the situation myself and do an on the spot assessment. i can say that there are issues, these are issues that i have been briefed about, what i have read based on certain petitions from some quarters but i cannot just rely on petition written by people but i will want to visit the place which i will do very soon to have an on the spot assessment of the place then one will be in a better position to know what the approach will be but i quiet accept the facts that there are challenges,” he told LEADERSHIP.
In a related development, Mamora has pledged that the lingering dispute between his agency (representing the federal government) and the Lagos State government (represented by the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA) over the management and supervision of activities on the inland waterways would be resolved amicably to the satisfaction of all during his tenure.
The onetime speaker of the Lagos State house of assembly said rather than toe the stiff and tortuous legal route as was the case presently, out-of-court settlement remains the magic wand needed to put the issue behind for the interest of effective and seamless inland waterways management in Nigeria and the national economy.
Mamora was contributing as a discussant to a special presentation on the topic, Effective Maritime Security and Safety for Sustainable Maritime Development during the conference in Lagos to commemorate the World Maritime Day being celebrated by the International Maritime Organization (IMO).
The NIWA boss, who described Nigeria as a blessed nation through her waterways, said that transportation through waterways would no doubt reduce pressure on Nigerian roads.
According to him, when passed into law, the NIWA Amendment Act currently before the national assembly would ensure a more effective and operationally efficient NIWA.