Abuja — The Minister of Transportation, Mr. Rotimi Amaechi, has disclosed that the dredging of River Niger has been completed, and assured that work will soon commence for the dredging of River Benue.
Amaechi, who made the disclosure while fielding question from members of the Senate committee on Maritime weekend, said what the River Niger needs now is constant maintenance work to allow for unhindered flow of goods to different parts of the country.
The Chairman of the Committee, Senator Ahmed Rufai Sani, who expressed satisfaction with the defence of N1.3 billion as part of overhead to run the ministry, immediately approved the appropriation for the ministry.
Sani however said the committee would critically look at every item in the 2017 proposed budget of government agencies, adding, "And we shall not hesitate to express our dissatisfaction to any agency that is not up and doing."
Also, the minister said the country has received the approval of President Muhammadu Buhari to re-contest the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) seat this year.
According to him, the ministry's contribution to the regular participation of Nigeria at the IMO meetings, coupled with its achievement in the implementation of the ISPS code regulations, has the country in good standing to re-contest for the International maritime Organisation category 'C' membership of the council.
He said Nigeria lost the position to Liberia in 2011, stressing that for the country to fully exploit benefits within IMO, the President has approved Nigeria's bid to re-contest the election in November.
According to him, "It is also noteworthy that Mr. President has approved that Nigeria through NIMASA, should host the heads of Maritime Administration in Africa (MARAD) in Africa International Maritime Organisation (IMO) in Abuja."
He said, in line with his supervisory mandate, he successfully conducted the quarterly routine inspection of the ports in the four navigational districts - Lagos, Onne/Port Harcourt, Warri and Calabar.
Amaechi noted that the ministry has commissioned the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) command and control centre to monitor and track the movement of vessels in all the six ports as part of measures to enhance security and block revenue leakages in the system.
The National Inland Waterways (NIWA), according to him, is blessed with over 3,800 km navigable linking more than 20 States and comprising of 12 major rivers namely: River Niger, Benue, Cross Rivers, Ogun, Imo, among other rivers, creeks, lagoons, lakes and intra-coastal waters.
In order to maximise the use of these resources, he said government in 2009 came up with dredging which among others resulted in the following achievements:- the capital dredging of the lower River Niger (Warri-Baro) a distance of 572 kilometres.