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FG may concession N9.4bn Baro, Oguta, Lokoja River Ports 

NIWA MD, Dr George Moghalu

Eyewitness reporter

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.

“If we are able to concession Oguta, and Lokoja river ports, we may not have resources to complete the ports but if we have private sector partners who are ready to work with us, complete the construction, take them over, run them successfully, we will be happy.”

“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.

” At the port, there was a rail line, so what is needed is to rehabilitate the rail line because we need multi-modal means of transportation to be able to use the port effectively.

“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.

“Am sure that the project is on course and as regards to rail and road, in no distant future, the access to Baro river ports will be sorted and resolved,” he assured.

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.

” This is a statement of fact and there is no way our infrastructure will last. For example, if five million containers are going to the east per annum, what that translates to is that 10 million trailers will be on our roads.
“Five million taking the consignments to their destinations and five million taking the empties back. Our roads cannot carry such pressure. So anything we can do to relieve such pressure, we are going to do it.

“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.

“One thing you need to know is that it is the owner of the cargo that determines where his cargo is going and how it gets there; you cannot mandate it by law.

“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.

“They said they don’t want a situation where their goods are gambled with; where goods all the way from China or Europe get to Nigeria and drop off on our waterways and they begin to tell them stories.

“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.”

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Lagos princess congratulates Tinubu, Sanwo-Olu

… tasks them on development of maritime economy
The eyewitness reporter
The President-elect, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, and the Governor of Lagos State, Mr. Babajide Olushola Sanwo-Olu have been tasked with paying attention to the maritime economy for its development for the overall benefit of Nigeria and her citizenry.
Giving the task with congratulatory messages, a Lagos princess, Princess Ronke Kosoko, noted that developing the maritime economy would instigate the economic development of the nation.
Princess Kosoko who is the CEO of Employment Clinic and Coordinator, Project One Million Jobs,
congratulated Asiwaju Tinubu and Governor Sanwo-Olu on their well-deserved victories at the polls.
She was confident that the Nigerian maritime economy will gain immensely from the Tinubu administration even as she enjoined the President-elect to focus on the industry.
Kosoko noted that skilled maritime personnel is aging and there is a need to transfer their wealth of experience to the younger generation who needs to be prepared to take over from the retiring generation.
She disclosed that the Federal Ministry of Transportation had approved the request for Project One Million Jobs to interface with agencies under the ministry for a seamless flow of talks and synergy that will positively impact and lead to a new frontier in the industry.
Ronke Kosoko unveiled her pet project, Maritime Conversion Programme (MCP), which she explained was designed to introduce Nigerian graduates to the maritime sector and improve career prospects.

Kosoko said that the MCP, which has gotten the backing of the government, would give support and connect not less than 5000 Nigerian graduates with the right employers in the industry who can engage them in non-technical aspects of shipping.

She noted that women will be given an adequate percentage under MCP, stating that the MCP is not creating jobs but providing a fertile ground for the transfer of knowledge from old Nigerians in the industry to young ones.

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Ekweremadu, wife may go to jail as London court finds them guilty of organ tafficking

Ike Ekweremadu; his wife, Beatrice;
The Eyewitness reporter with agency report

A former Deputy Senate President, Ike Ekweremadu; his wife Beatrice; and their doctor, Obinna Obeta have been found guilty of organ trafficking in the first verdict of its kind under the Modern Slavery Act.

Ekweremadu, 60; his wife, Beatrice, 56; and Obeta, 51; were found guilty of facilitating the travel of a young man to Britain with a view to his exploitation after a six-week trial at the Old Bailey.

They  allegedly criminally conspired to bring the 21-year-old Lagos street trader to London to exploit him for his kidney, the jury found, according to UK Guardian.

Ekweremadu and his wife were charged in the United Kingdom after they allegedly lured a young man from Nigeria to harvest his organ for their ailing daughter, Sonia.
The lawmaker was last year arrested and had been in the custody of UK authorities after they received complaints from the young man about their alleged plans to harvest his organ.

The prosecutor, Hugh Davies KC, told the court on Thursday the Ekweremadus and Obeta had treated the man and other potential donors as “disposable assets – spare parts for reward”.

He said they entered an “emotionally cold commercial transaction” with the man.

The behaviour of Ekweremadu, a successful lawyer and founder of an anti-poverty charity who helped draw up Nigeria’s laws against organ trafficking, showed “entitlement, dishonesty and hypocrisy”, Davies told the jury.

He said Ekweremadu, who owns several properties and had a staff of 80, “agreed to reward someone for a kidney for his daughter – somebody in circumstances of poverty and from whom he distanced himself and made no inquiries, and with whom, for his own political protection, he wanted no direct contact”.

Davies added, “What he agreed to do was not simply expedient in the clinical interests of his daughter, Sonia, it was exploitation, it was criminal.

“It is no defence to say he acted out of love for his daughter. Her clinical needs cannot come at the expense of the exploitation of somebody in poverty.”

Ekweremadu, who denied the charge, told the court he was the victim of a scam.

Obeta, who also denied the charge, claimed the man was not offered a reward for his kidney and was acting altruistically.

Beatrice denied any knowledge of the alleged conspiracy. Sonia did not give evidence.

The judge, Mr Justice Jeremy Johnson, will pass sentence at a later date.

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EFCC arraigns bank manager, two others for N55m fraud in Makurdi

Owolola Adebola

The Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC,) on Tuesday, March 21, 2023, arraigned one Kichime Gomwalk, a  branch manager of First City Monument Bank, (FCMB,) Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited before Justice P. S. Gang of the Plateau State High Court Jos, on a five-count charge bordering on stealing, cheating and obtaining by false pretense to the tune of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) fraud.

Kichime Gomwalk, while serving as branch Manager, FCMB Plc, Murtala Mohammed Way Jos, in Plateau State is alleged to have forged COCIN GRATUITY CERTIFICATE OF PLEDGE/LETTER OF SET-OFF dated 30th DECEMBER, 2019, purportedly co-signed by Mrs. Monica Bitrus Tang and Rev (Dr.) Amos Musa Mohzo, Directors, which he used to secure an overdraft facility from FCMB Plc to the tune of N55, 000.000.00 (Fifty-Five Million Naira) with COCIN Gratuity account N0. 100GOMWALK379 domiciled with FCMB Plc

Count one of the charges reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 at Jos, in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court did conspire among yourselves to commit an unlawful act to with without Lawful authority engaged in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc and thereby committed an offense of conspiracy contrary to section 59 (1) of the Plateau State Penal Code Law, (20017) and punishable under Section 59 (2) of the same Law”.

Count two reads, “That you, Kichime Gomwalk, Michael Damkas Buayam of Tan Global Energy Limited, and you Abbas Andrew Dayilim of Castlegate International Limited, sometime in December 2019 in Plateau State within the jurisdiction of this Honorable Court fraudulently used LETTER OF CONSENT to engage in the acquisition of N55,000.000.00 (Fifty Five Million Naira) overdraft credit facility from FCMB Plc knowing that at the time of acquisition of the said money, it was derived from the unlawful activity and thereby committed an offence contrary to section 18 (a) of the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission  (Establishment Act) 2004, and Punishable under section 18 (2) of the same Act”.

The defendants pleaded ‘not guilty’ when the charge was read to them.

 The prosecution counsel, Uwaise Yusuf urged the court to remand the defendants and fix a date for trial.

The judge adjourned the case till May 18, 2023, and ordered the remand of the defendants at the Jos Correctional Center pending the hearing of their bail applications.

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