Hydrographers end survey, charting of Lower River Niger
A team of hydrographers from the Nigerian Navy and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has completed survey and navigational charts of the Lower River Niger.
The joint initiative, supported by Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and Afreximbank was unveiled in an epoch-making ceremony in Abuja. It comprises of 12 paper and electronic charts to ensure navigational safety of the lower river Niger channel to boost both hinterland and coastal trade.
The cessation of the use of the Burutu Port in mid-1970s substantially led to considerable level of disuse of the river channel for mercantile trade, leading to siltation of the channel over the years that resulted in navigational challenges. This, therefore, informed the decision of NEXIM to partner with Afreximbank, Nigerian Navy and NIWA to undertake the survey / charting exercise.
It would be recalled that few years ago, NEXIM embarked on a project to facilitate the establishment of a regional shipping line, the Sealink Project, which will operate within the regional market, thereby reducing transit travel time and logistics costs, will enhance trade connectivity and competitiveness. The initial concept was later extended to include the development of the inland waterways to facilitate the movement and evacuation of bulk cargo, particularly solid minerals using barges.
The MD/CE of NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, in his welcome remarks at the event, said: ‘’The Nigerian Export – Import Bank, being a trade policy bank embarked on the deliberate policy initiative to bridge maritime infrastructure gaps towards lowering logistics cost to foster trade with the promotion of the Regional Sealink Project.”
“ As a Special Purpose Vehicle under a public-private-partnership framework, Sealink essentially aims to enable the Bank to significantly broaden national export basket’’
Afreximbank President, Prof. Benedict Oramah represented by the Regional Manager, Remigius Nwachukwu lauded the efforts of NEXIM, the Nigerian Navy and NIWA for supporting regional trade in Africa and reiterated Afreximbank’ s commitment to provide support to serious investors with bankable projects to take advantage of the emerging business opportunities in marine logistics sector.
Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning, Mrs. Shamsuna Ahmed, who was represented by Director, Home Finance, Mohammed Ali, stated that the ministry had adopted the Regional Sealink Project as one of its ministerial mandates because of the need to support initiatives that will “promote and attract private sector investments in maritime logistics infrastructure”.
According to her, this was with a view to engender sustainable growth and diversification of the economy, as well as enhance the country’s potential to undertake export trade of bulk commodities like solid minerals and agricultural produce.
The Minister further commended the Nigerian Export – Import Bank for its determined drive to implement government’s policy initiatives and for the inter-agency collaboration that is evident in projects like the Sealink initiative.
The Chief of Naval Staff, Rear Admiral A.Z Gambo in his remarks thanked all the critical stakeholders and pledged the commitment of the Nigerian Navy to provide all logistical and technical support needed to ensure that the Sealink project is completed. He emphasized the critical role played by the Nigerian Navy in developing the Charts, spearheaded by the Naval hydrographer, adding that this was the first time a project of that nature was being handled by an Indigenous Nigerian entity.
Minister of Transport, Alhaji Jaji Sambo, who was the special guest of honour at the event affirmed the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s commitment to the successful attainment of the overall objective of the Project in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the holistic and sustainable development of the maritime sector and the Inland waterways. He further stated that ‘’This laudable initiative of the Sealink Promotional Company Limited funded by NEXIM and the Afreximbank with the actual survey exercise conducted jointly by the Nigerian Navy and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), is worthy of national recognition and reward. It is an effort never before undertaken in the history of our country.’’
The unveiling ceremony was graced by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Gida Mustapha, who was a Special Guest to witness the ceremony.