6 February 2013

Nigeria: Baro Community Decries Quality of River Niger Dredging

The people of Baro Community in Agaie local government area of Niger State have raised the alarm over the quality of dredging of River Niger and inland port under construction in the area.

Findings also revealed that the people were not happy over the inability of the federal government and the contractors handling the dredging as well as construction of Baro port started in 2010 to pay them compensation for their destroyed farmlands.

When our correspondent visited Baro, the contractor handling the dredging was not on site but it was learnt that the contractor was on site up until last year after test-running the purported dredging with boat from Baro to Jamata in Kogi State.

The people further expressed reservations over the quality of work done, as they alleged that the contractor did a peripheral dredging, which, by their estimation, would not be able to carry a ship but just a ferry or flying boat.

More worrisome to the people, according to LEADERSHIP investigations, was that, since the project started, the communities were promised compensation for their farmlands, but the dredging has been supposedly completed and the inland port project has reached 85 per cent completion stage without any compensation paid to them.

Confirming the development, the village head of Baro, Alhaji Mohammed Kazoro, told LEADERSHIP that the engineers who were sent for the dredging did not do any serious work on the existing depth of the river as expected by the community.

He said, "There is no ship that can come to this place because the work is not good. You can see that everywhere within the depth of the river is filled with sand, so where do you expect ships to come into the port.

"Instead of them to carry out sand out of the course of the river and to widen the river for the ships to be able to land, up till now it has not been so and we don't know how ship would be able to land with this poor work."

According to him, "the engineers did not do any work but they said they have completed the job. They only came here, sat down and were eating their bush meat".

One of the opinion leaders of Baro community and member representing Agaie in the state House of Assembly, Hon Ndagi Akwanu, stated that the fact that the dredging contractors were not on site did not mean the dredging was not ongoing.

He said that the dredging was carried out but the fear being entertained was whether the areas dredged between the old Baro Port terminuses would be able to carry a ship hence the test-running was done with just ferry boat.

He said, "For us to be sure, why not test this dredged area with at least a ship containing 24 cars for it to discharge it at Baro and then we will be sure of the deepness to carry ship My fear is that, with the flood recently, how are we sure that areas dredged were not covered by sand washed from the flood?"

"I have been involved from my community on the dredging and I know what has been going on. They actually have completed the dredging, but until it has been test-run with a ship, I still entertain my fear about the ability to carry out heavy cargo delivery," he added.

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