The Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Sambo, has said a well-developed and efficient inland water transportation was necessary for an integrated and functional multimodal transportation system whose major pillar was dependent upon accurate and timely hydrographic studies and charts.
Speaking at the unveiling of the Navigational Charts of the lower River Niger on Thursday in Abuja, he said
the navigational chart was a project that could potentially change the very dynamics of prosperity for the country.
Sambo said the project was in tandem with the statutory responsibilities and objectives of the Ministry of Transportation to boost the efforts of President Muhammadu Buhari’s government toward the development and operation of an efficient and safe transportation network.
The project has the objective of providing direct maritime linkages within Nigeria and between African countries thereby utilising Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Products growth and attracting foreign direct investments, creating highly needed jobs and boosting internal as well as inter-African trading.
He said, “The United States economy today is supported by revenues worth over 70 billion dollars from 600 million tonnes of cargo transported through its inland waterways.
“It created hundreds of thousands of jobs, building industrial communities along the waterway channels and thus spreading economic prosperity throughout the length and breadth of these waterways.
“The United States of America’s waterways and multimodal transportation network provide a competitive edge in global markets.
“No wonder its corn and soybean farmers are the most efficient in the world”.
Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Mr. Boss Mustapha, said there was a need to get back the mode of transportation on the inland waterways to re-engineer or recreate the trading activities that used to exist along the river Niger and Benue and save the lifespan of roads.
He said the successful execution of the project locally had saved the country huge foreign exchange, adding that all the charts in the past were done by foreign firms.
“But today we can beat our chest and say that our Nigerian Navy has provided the platform that is necessary for the chart.
“What this charting has done is that it has created an infrastructure or a process that eventual exercises of capital dredging or maintenance dredging will be guided.
“It is important that we realise that whichever government takes over from President Mohammed Buhari, it must continue the trajectory of creating an intermodal transport system for this country.
“About a month or two ago, the Federal Executive Council approved a contract worth N1.9 trillion through the tax credit scheme for the rehabilitation and reconstruction of our roads.
“That is important but as long as you do not provide an alternative means of transportation that will carry heavy-duty goods, you would not be able to save the lifespan of your roads. “