NIWA MD proffers solution to maritime challenges
The challenges in the maritime sector can only be addressed when inland waterways become fully functional, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, has said.
Speaking in Abuja at the inauguration, by the Minister of Transportation, of NIWA, Abuja Liaison Office, at the weekend, the MD said only about 30 per cent of the 10,000 kilometres of the Nigerian waterways were navigable.
His words: “All over the world, bulk cargo is either moved by water or by rail, but more by rail, and ours cannot be different. We have over 10,000km of waterways in this country. As we speak, it is slightly over 3,000km that is navigable, which, for me, is scandalous.”
According to him, the under-utilisation of the inland waterways is the reason goods that come into the country or those that are export-bound overstay their shelf life at the Apapa Port, adding that the delay makes the goods, which are mostly perishable, to lose quality thereby making the transporter incur financial losses.
The goods are rejected because they spend over three months before they are processed for shipping, he argued.
“We are interested in getting goods to move. Exporters are lamenting that their goods sometimes spend three months at the export terminal in Apapa and another two months before it gets moved.
“We don’t have exclusivity to these goods and that is why we get lots of rejection. They generally say products from Nigeria are not good not knowing that at the point where you took them, they were world-class quality, but by the time we suffer delays at the port, when it gets to its destination, it has gone bad.”
On the essence of functional waterways, he expressed the belief not and until the country develops its inland waterways the way they should be, maritime challenges would not be solved.
On the decongestion of Apapa port, the NIWA boss said: “We cannot have a world-class port in Onitsha while Apapa port is congested. Meanwhile, over 60 per cent of the cargoes are destined for Onitsha and Aba. So, why can’t we move these cargoes directly to Onitsha? I don’t expect the Maersk vessels to come to Onitsha, but badges can move from Apapa to Onitsha and offload the goods. We are going to save transporters lots of costs and at the same time, it is convenient for the operators.”