Business Hilights
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Again, FG to dredge 152 Km Ajaokuta-Onitsha River Niger waterways

Not up to four years of the initial multi-billion naira dredging deal carried out by former administration from Warri in Delta State through Onitsha in Anambra State to Baro in Kogi State, another whooping amount is set to go away for the same purpose.

Investigations carried out by a House of Representative member form Kogi State had earlier in the month questioned the truthfulness in the first acclaimed dredging process which he said had nothing to show for it.

His argument was based on the fact that the waterway had not been used for any transport purpose since the job was said to be completed and money paid the contractor.

Maritime transport observers say if the waterway was actually dredged as calimed by former administration, it will take another 10 years for the need for another dredging.

Business Hilights gathered that the Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, will launch the dredging of the 152 kilometres Ajaokuta-Onitsha waterways on April 28, in Kogi State.

According to the Minister, the dredging was an initiative of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).

He commended the Managing Director of NIWA for the initiative, adding that already NIWA had mobilised its dredgers to carry out maintenance dredging on the Ajaokuta-Onitsha waterways to ensure smooth navigation of barges and vessels.

Amaechi said “This is a good idea; the NIWA boss tries to get back our old dredgers to do the dredging by ourselves, not by contract, because we do not have money to award contract.

“Those companies that can use barges can move their freight; it is 2.5-metre raft. They can use it to arrive at the Ajaokuta ramp for berthing within three months; we just want the waterways to be navigable,” the minister said.

Besides, trading and transport stakeholders in the South East and Onitsha in particular had expressed worry over the official delays in finding a concessionaire for the refurbished Onitsha River port, saying the non use of the facility is frustrating their business plans.

It was not however clear, if the planned dredging will among other things force the federal government to concession the River Port and put it good use. This can be deduced from the comments of the Minister who said that the dredging would go a long way in facilitating the transportation of freight to the eastern part of the country.