The Board of Directors, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has promised to make the nation’s 10,000km-waterways navigable all year round.
The Board Chairperson, Sen. Binta Masi-Garba, made the promise on Tuesday during the Inaugural meeting of the board at the NIWA Headquarters in Lokoja.
Masi-Garba expressed regrets that though “Nigeria is richly blessed with more than 10,000km Waterways, only 3,800km out of it is being navigated all year round.
“As a board, it’s our mandate and that of the authority to make the entire 10,000km waterways navigable all year round with a view to providing an alternative mode of transportation for the evacuation of goods and passengers.
“This is a big task placed on the authority; therefore, all hands must be on deck to achieve the desired goals.
“The board, as a neutral platform for dialogue and collaboration as well as a place to openly share ideas, and experiences and discuss solutions, we will from time to time bring together stakeholders, operators and multilateral agencies and academics to discuss solutions.
“I want to assure you that as the chairman, I will do my best to discharge my duties and join hands with well-meaning stakeholders to create and bequeath an organisation that is better than the one we have today,
“I will be fully committed and willing to deploy time and resources towards the attainment of the authority’s vision to establish and sustain a first-class organisation managed professionally and responsibly.”
The chairperson said what she expected to see was a NIWA that would be flexible and adaptable to the needs of Nigerians and recognised and respected locally and internationally.
Masi-Garba, however, expressed the hope of overcoming the challenges of the authority if only the support, cooperation and guidance crucial to bringing about the desired positive change was gotten.
Earlier in his welcome address, the chairman of NIWA, Chief George Moghalu, said that the board was being faced with a series of challenges ranging from insufficient funding and lack of infrastructure.
Moghalu expressed gladness that at last NIWA had a board in place and hoped that some of the challenges of the authority would be well tackled
“We want to tell you that we are very happy to have you on board to help solve our problems.
“The management is willing to tap into your wisdom, knowledge and understanding.
As we get along, please advise us on what to do and how best to overcome our challenges and equally meet our mandate as an authority,” he said
He said that the authority tries to improve its Internally Generated Revenue (IGR) toward addressing the challenges, especially infrastructure such as vessels, boats and jetties most of which are locally made in Port-Hacourt.
“If we really want to overcome the challenges of waterways, we have to get more of these vessels and boats locally made here in Nigeria.”