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SGF, Boss opened up on real challenges of NIWA before appointment

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Former Managing Directors of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and now, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Barr Boss Gida Mustapha in an interview hours before his new appointment said the key issues frustrating navigability of Nigerian territorial waters remain the natural shallowness and silting during rainy season.

He revealed that the challenges are further compounded by the presence of only one old but outdated dredger in the Authority.

According to him, “Our Rivers are still seasonal, they are primitive and they have not been adequately dredged. So when you have very good rainfall this year, the navigation is extended ordinarily by nature, not as a result of our efforts”.

“But with the maintenance dredging, what it does is that we come in and look at it and say where has silted up. We would remove the silt, open up the channel so that there will be continuous navigation all year around. The machine that has just been unveiled (The Harvester) is a beautiful machine that works in areas where aquatic weeds have blocked traffic. You saw it on the update, how water hyacinth just blocked a particular community.

He added that “People who depend on the river for means of transportation to go to school, to go to the market, to live their social life, would not be able to do it because there is water hyacinth”.

Earlier, he noted that “When I got to office, I noticed that we have competent engineers, and then the question is why I should buy new machines. I have repaired the old one and I have deployed it for constructive maintenance of River Niger by removing blockages”.

“So much money has been invested in dredging of the River Niger, people talk about billions and billions of Naira. It is sad that it has not increased navigation for one day.

Boss recalled that NIWA ought to have been acquiring small machines but budgetary constraints have militated against the acquisition.

“What area can these few machines cover? Very little! But we want to demonstrate the capacity and capability of NIWA so that people looking at us can say I can go into this. That is the reason why you find out most of the people here drawn from the private sector because they want to gain partnership; we want to get their buy-in.

“Not in the sense that it is only the government that can do this. I can buy a harvester as a businessman and deploy it and communities will be willing to pay me to open up their axis. A lot of communities in Nigeria are self funded, they develop their infrastructure by themselves, they build schools by themselves and they construct roads by themselves. In some communities they even build market stalls by themselves. So the spirit of “Do-It-Our-self” has been a Nigeria culture. And I believe that we are just setting the pace and asking the Nigerian people to come and join us.

He therefore called on private investors to come and partner with NIWA in the development and use of Nigerian territorial waterways.

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