Emma Elekwa, Onitsha
Managing Director, National Inland Waterway Authority (NIWA) Dr. George Moghalu has expressed dismay over the spate of abuse of nation’s waterways, including putting up structures along right of ways.
He warned those responsible to dismantle such structures or have them pulled down.
Moghalu spoke in Onitsha, Anambra state during the second sensitization and awareness Seminar for Maritime Stakeholders within the South East zone, themed, “Reforming the Maritime Sector in Onitsha Priority Areas, Potential Projects and the Way Forward.”
He also advised landlords permitted to build on its Right of Way to pay their outstanding debts or risk their structures being removed from their locations.
He said a task force has been constituted to carry on with the responsibility, insisting that the era of such anomalies were over.
He said, “We’re putting up a task force to start work immediately because there are lots of infringement, we need to know who and who are these people, what authorities are they developing structures on the waterways without the consent and approval of NIWA.
“We’ll also like to see the permit of those who claim they have because many parade with fake permits. That’s why the task force has a clear and strong responsibility and they have to deliver on their mandate.
“It’s no longer business as usual. Things must be done properly because I’m accountable, and it would assist in boasting my IGR.
The NIWA boss further reassured his preparedness to ensure the soon functioning of the Onitsha and Baro River ports.
He also expressed his concern towards the soon completion of the concessional processes to guarantee their operation.
He added, “I’m in a hurry to get the Onitsha river ports working. I’m in a hurry to get the Baro river ports working. These two are already completed and government invested much money in them. Others are still under construction which is ongoing.
“We’re talking with the right people and following the due processes to ensure things are properly done.
“Remember, I’m barely four months in office and by the time I came, there was ongoing concessional processes. There were issues we were making efforts to resolve and I’m sure we’ll be able to do that as soon as possible.
“But wether the Onitsha river ports will function, we’re determined to make it function as quickly as possible because it has a lot of benefits for the entire South East, especially Onitsha.”
Moghalu further revealed NIWA’s collaboration with the private sector, including the recent signing of a Memorandum of Understanding with a private organisation for the production of life jacket.
“They’ve started the process of issuing life jacket because of the importance in the industry. We as a regulatory agency want to ensure all our waterways are safe, and our operatives abide by the rules.
“We want to avoid a situation people will go into the vessels not properly kitted or go into overloaded ones. These things must be avoided.
“We’re also talking with the transporters to invest in the industry. A good number of them have indicated interest to partner with us.
“I told them the potentials, that we can also take over the market. Some of them are even ready to bargain their own ferries, the way luxurious buses are bought,” he added.