Posted on February 12, 2024
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), over the weekend, hinted that arrangements have been perfected to dredge River Niger, just as the removal of wrecks and other hindrances across the waterways in the country will commence soon.
On the Lagos inland waterways alone, no fewer than five wrecks are planned to be removed during the exercise. Besides, NIWA will also be licensing no fewer than 2,200 boats and training 1,500 Skippers before the end of 2024.
Speaking with journalists in Lagos, the Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer of NIWA, Munirudeen Bola Oyebamiji explained that Lagos, being the hub of inland waterways activities in Nigeria, has already seen the deployment of five patrol boats to monitor activities on the state waterways.
According to Oyebamiji, “One of the targets I gave the area managers when I resumed was increasing the number of navigable waterways that we currently have in this country. “Nigeria has about 10,000km of waterways in this country, but anytime you search via Google, you will always find out that only 3,000km are navigable.
I have targeted the Area Managers to increase navigable waterways in Nigeria from 3,000km to 5,000km. This means that as part of the deliverables that I gave the Area Managers, NIWA has to dredge an additional 2,000km of waterways to meet the target of 5,000km of navigable inland waterways. We plan to carry out a major dredging operation across the River Niger.
“Also, another target I gave the Area Managers is tied to the number of jetties that NIWA has. I asked them to give me the number of jetties that they want to add to what they already have. In the next four years, we need to know the number of jetties that we will want to build so that by 2027, we would have said that this number of jetties were built during this period.
“On the issue of wrecks, I gave each Area number of wrecks to remove. Lagos, being our busiest area, got a target of five wrecks to be removed yearly. The wreck removals will also cover other areas across the country. Again, on boat operations, I expect 2,200 boats to be licensed on a yearly basis in Lagos.
Also, I have charged the Lagos Area Managers to train and license 1,500 Skippers on a yearly basis. “So all these formed part of the targets that I gave to each Area Managers during our meetings for them to measure their performance in office on a yearly basis. This will let everybody have a sense of direction and know what they are expected to do, “NIWA boss hinted.
Commenting on the maintenance of physical presence on the Lagos waterways, Mr Oyebamiji revealed that five patrol boats had already been deployed across Lagos. “With the Supreme Court judgement, we cannot afford to have any lapses any longer. Going forward, we have deployed five patrol boats across the waterways in Lagos, being our busiest axis. We are scaling up plans on safety of life and security on our waterways.
Protecting activities on our waterways, going forward, is a priority. “One patrol boat has been taken to Badagry to cover that axis. Another has been taken to Badore; another one has been deployed at Ikorodu; another deployed at Ijegun while the last one is at Marina here.
The deployment of these patrol boats was strategic. Take for instance the choice of Ijegun. You know Badagry is far, so if anything happens along the waterways leading to Badagry before the patrol boat stationed in Badagry arrives, the one in Ijegun would have got there. “The patrol boats have been deployed along these axes to monitor waterways issues like overspeeding, overloading, and others.
The deployment of these patrol boats is just a way of increasing our presence on the waterways. “We have also installed a Gauge inside the water here in Marina. The Gauge gives us information about the wave movement. It monitors wave movement and gives us information on what to expect every day.
The Gauge has a range of monitoring from Marina to Badagry and Ikorodu. “We are also looking at deploying some boats in the Northern part of the country because accidents happen in this area due to the rickety boats that are used. We also want to have Water Marshals across the country. This is already in place in Lagos, but we want to replicate that nationwide,”Oyebamiji remarked.