Editorial: Revamping The Niger Delta Waterways

The prevalent gridlock being experienced at the Apapa/Oshodi expressway has once again brought to the limelight the laxities of the managers of the nation’s resources.

According to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigeria is blessed with waterways spanning 10,000km while 3,800km is navigable seasonally, which is a cause for alarm.

A nation that is blessed with such abundant body of water has decided to focus her energy on just one part of the nation while neglecting the rest, thereby bringing heavy burden, wears and tears on the road and other critical infrastructure just because some persons have simply refused to think, take the initiative and be the champion of the purported change that is being chanted daily by the government in power.

The 2015 elections ushered in an ex-governor from the South-South as the Minister of Transportation in the person of Hon. Rotimi Amaechi. With his emergence, people from the south were rather happy that it will be the beginning of great tidings for the region.

Before now, we had the likes of Chief Tony Anenih as the Minister of works, Arch. Mike Onolememen, Ojo Maduekwe (who advocated for Nigerians to ride bicycles), Allison Madueke (the weeping Minister). But apart from Arch. Mike Onolememen who came in as a replacement to the shoddy minister in charge then, the rest were colossal failures regarding the expectations of the region.

Each, had a chance to open up the channels of the Niger Delta, to replicate the lucrative activities of old-time heroes like King Jaja of Opobo known to be a palm oil merchant but to the collective shame of the region and the nation, there is nothing to show for it, 19 years since the return to democratic rule!

It is expected that, given such opportunity, the minister is in the best position to propose a budget that captures the dredging of the water channels, removal of capsized vessels hindering the free movement of vessels into the shorelines and reduce or rather eliminate the tax regimes which has reportedly made vessel operators flee from this region.

It is a shame to turn a blind eye to the development of the southern ports comprising Calabar, Warri, Burutu and Koko and the biggest shame is conducting an inconclusive environmental Impact assessment just because the electioneering season has come, and the party in power is looking for something to latch on to.

This administration upon being sworn in was first distracted by revoking and re-awarding existing contracts easily forgetting that government is a continuum. However, discovering that time was almost running against them, jumped into completing already completed projects claiming the glory and labelling the previous administration with unprintable names.

But posterity has given the present Minister, Mr Rotimi Amaechi and his counterpart in NIMASA Dr Dakuku Peterside the mandates to run with time and turn the tides bedevilling the waterways of Niger Delta around so as to ease the shame of Apapa/Oshodi expressway.

In the same vein, we call on the management of Niger Delta Development Commission and the Ministry of Niger Delta Affairs under the tutelage of Pastor Usani Uguru Usani to as a matter of great national urgency come together, streamline the endless road constructions going on and build and revamp the waterways that will boost and free up the latent wealth held up in the region.

This can be achieved by expanding the drafts to enable containerized vessels to berth and nip in the bud, the disparity in freight charges that have put to flight patronage from ship owners who have previously shown interest in the Port Harcourt seaport.

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