The Federal Government has assured that it is working assiduously to ensure that, soon, the nation’s inland waterways will be developed enough to move cargoes by barges to their ports of destination.
The Minister of Transportation, Engr. Mu’azu Sambo gave the assurance yesterday during an interview session with journalists at the on-going 2022 Ministerial Retreat in Uyo, Akwa Ibom State.
“We want to make sure that Inland waterways transportation is developed in such a way that movement of containers and other cargoes by barges from Lagos through the intra-coastal routes to hinterlands will become the new normal,” Sambo said.
According to the minister, making that possible will involve clearing the waterways and, fortunately, the ministry has found a company that is ready to do that sometime in November this year.
“We have a dream in the ministry to move containers from Marina in Lagos to Onitsha in Anambra State and, even, to Baro in Niger State. That will entail channalisation and channel management of the routes from Lagos through the intra-coastal routes to land rivers up to Onitsha along the river Niger up to Baro,” Sambo said.
On the issue of the costal railway from Lagos to Calabar, the minister said the project has stalled because the contractor, China Civil Engineering Construction Company (CCECC), is yet to come up with its 85 per cent of the counterpart funding while Nigeria is to provide 15 per cent.
He, however, assured that the ministry has identified an investor willing to provide the funds and the ministry is in talks on how to split the project between the investor and the initial contractor.
On the importance of the coastal line, Sambo noted that: “The coastal line is a very important line because it connects all the port cities of Nigeria. If you connect all the port cities by rail. Then we will open up the eastern ports, as well so that goods that come from the ports will naturally go upland”.
Also, Sambo disclosed that the government has a 25-year plan to deliver on the National Development Plan 2021-2025.
“The plan that we have under the 25 years Railway Modernisation Plan is to connect every state capital by rail.”