After successfully concessioning the Onitsha River Ports, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), said it has received several proposals for the concession of the N9.4billion Oguta, Baro and Lokoja River Ports.
While the Baro river port has been successfully completed and concessioned by President Muhammadu Buhari, the Oguta and Lokoja River ports are still undergoing construction.
Recall that while the Baro port was built for N2.6billion, Oguta and Lokoja were built for N2.7billon and N4.1billion respectively.
However, speaking on the current state of the river ports across the country, the Managing Director, NIWA, Dr George Moghalu, said the proposal for concessions are being given consideration.
According to him, while private sector operators manage business better, they also have enough funds to complete the construction of the river ports.
He said, “We have received proposals for those who want us to concession Oguta and Lokoja river ports as it is undergoing construction and we are giving them serious consideration because the private sector manages business better.
“We encourage concessioning and that’s why we have Onitsha River Port as our poster boy because we have successfully concessioned Onitsha and what that means is that we can concession others and the private sector are in charge of activities there. That will be a template to guide us.”
The MD, however, stated that the challenge of an access road that has made the Baro river ports non-functional since it was commissioned by the President in 2019 is receiving government attention.
According to him, the federal government has approved the rehabilitation of the rail line while the state government approved the construction of the dilapidated road leading to the port.
He said, “Baro is a world-class port and it has been completed. The challenge we have is not about the port but the access road to the port. Am happy to tell you that the federal government is starting a road project and I engaged the Niger state government where they assured that they will fix the road.
“Also, FG has approved a rail project from Baro to Kano and work is about to start on it. It’s a major milestone for the port because Baro in the precolonial days has a port and when one goes there, we will see relics of the offices of GB Oliver.
“If cargoes come to the port, they should be able to be discharged and will either move by rail or water depending on where the cargoes are going.
He stated that if the river ports are successfully concessioned, the current pressure on the roads will be reduced, thereby, increasing the lifespan of the road.
Moghalu stated that bulk cargoes are moved either by water or rail, saying Nigeria’s case can’t be different in moving heavy cargoes.
“We want to reduce the pressure on our roads. Our roads are not designed to carry the weight they are carrying.
“In civilized societies, bulk cargoes are moved either by water or rail, and ours can’t be different. Those who started it and still doing it must have a reason; there is something they saw that made them adopt the water mode of transport. We will continue to pursue our target until we fully realise it.”
Speaking on the Lagos-Onitsha barge initiatives, the NIWA MD, said he was engaging the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce and Imoorters’ association.
He said, “on the Lagos-Onitsha route, we have done our test runs, and we will continue working on it because we haven’t gotten to where we want to be.
“So what we’ve been doing is to engage several bodies, like the Onitsha Chamber of Commerce and Importers Association of Nigeria to have buy-in, and we’ve been receiving favourable responses.
“I also recently met with the barge operators to offer them quality insurance on both the barges and cargo, as this was one of the issues raised by the importers themselves because they want to secure their goods.
“We discussed with the barge operators for us to have an understanding that we want a reasonable insurance cover for every cargo that will go on the inland waterway, and also for the vessels themselves to be fully insured so that we can give protection to the importer. The project is a prime one for us because we want to decongest our ports.”
Danish court returns guilty verdict on Nigerian pirate —- remands him in prison
A Danish court on Monday found a Nigerian guilty of endangering the lives of Danish military personnel in a shooting incident last November involving Denmark’s navy and a crew of suspected Nigerian pirates in the Gulf of Guinea.
However, the court declined to sentence the Nigerian, Lucky Frances, 40, despite a call from the prosecutor for a prison sentence of 12 to 15 months.
As part of international anti-piracy efforts, Denmark deployed a frigate to the Gulf of Guinea in October last year.
“The court emphasized that the 40-year-old Nigeria, together with the other perpetrators, fulfilled all the signs of piracy and had to be described as a pirate group,” Copenhagen city court said in a statement.
Frances, who was injured during a firefight with Danish navy personnel in the November clash, was taken to Denmark for prosecution in January after being treated at a hospital in Ghana.
Frances was exempted from any legal consequences due to his medical condition and the fact that charges against the other three suspected pirates had been dropped, his lawyer Jesper Storm Thygesen told Reuters.
Charges against the three other suspected Nigerian pirates were dropped in January after Denmark failed to find a country in the region to take them.
Frances will remain in custody until both sides have decided whether to appeal against the verdict, Thygesen said.
Possession of NIN by passengers now requirement for boarding trains—Sambo
” The train driver can see from a distance if there are any threats on the tracts that will enable him to match the break long before getting to the threat, and that is why I am telling you confidently,” said the Minister.
The Minister debunked the rumour that train services will resume on Monday, adding that the newly introduced measures will delay the resumption of business along the corridor for a few more days for passengers to get acquainted with the new protocol involved in train boarding before it will resume services.
“We have not said that train services will start tomorrow. I want to be very categorical about that.
“Now, we have introduced a new system before you buy a ticket. The purchase of a ticket requires you to provide a phone number and a national identification number in order to profile you because that is the beginning of the security checks. So at any point in time when a train moves from one station to another, we know who and who are on board.
“If you don’t have a NIN you are not going to board our train, it is as simple as that. If you are a minor, an adult will register for you and an adult can only register for not more than four minors.
“Now, we want to give sufficient time for the Nigerian public to listen to these two requirements, to assimilate this new system.
“So if you go and start tomorrow, a lot of people will be disgruntled. Why didn’t they tell us that this is a new way of doing it? Why didn’t they give us adequate time to do it? So we want to give you adequate time. Definitely between 3,4,5 days, certainly not more than a week.
Sambo assured Nigerians that a smooth and secured train ride is guaranteed while noting that the trains will not travel at night for now, while there is also going to be a review in train fares.
“I can assure you that we are a compassionate government and will consider the masses in the review of the train fare.”
We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snags”.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company, called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
Sambo said that although only God can guarantee maximum security, he assured Nigerians that everything is in place to guarantee a secured and smooth train ride.
“We are not going to tell you what we have done. It is a security matter and I have no apologies for that.
“We’ll be monitoring it on a daily basis and improve on wherever we find some snacks”.
The Minister assured that Secured ID would continue to handle the e-ticketing services.
“The ticketing called e-ticketing has already been contracted to a company called secure ID. That concession has gone through the entire concession process under extant laws, including approval by the Federal Executive Council. So that concession remains in place for the duration of the concession period, which I think is 10 years”.
The Minister was accompanied by the Minster of State for Transportation, Ademola Adegoroye; Minister of Water Resources Eng. Suleiman Adamu; Managing Director, Nigeria Railway Corporation Fidet Okhiria; Chairman Governing Board Nigeria Railway Corporation Ibrahim Musa.
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