Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, the minister of transportation, has unveiled the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger from Lokoja in Kogi State to Burutu in Delta State.
The navigational charts cover 594 km (321 nautical miles) with a total survey area of 1719.8 Square Kilometers.
The Minister said the project, which is in tandem with the statutory responsibilities of the Federal Ministry of Transportation, would boost the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari government towards the development and operation of an efficient and safe Inland Waterways Transportation Network.
He said the objective is to provide direct maritime linkages within Nigeria and between African countries in order to catalyse Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), creating jobs, and boosting internal as well as intra – African trade.
“A well-developed and efficient inland water transportation is necessary for an integrated and functional multimodal transportation system, whose major pillar is dependent on accurate and timely hydrographic surveys/charts,” Sambo said.
The Minister said that the US economy today is supported by revenues of over $70 billion from 600 million tons of cargo transported through its inland waterways, which also creates hundreds of thousands of jobs, and also grows the agro-industrial communities along the waterway channels.
“The USA’s waterways and multi-modal transportation network provide a competitive edge in global markets. No wonder, its corn and soybean farmers are the most efficient in the world,” he added.
Sambo said that Nigeria is blessed with an 800 km coastline and over 10,000 km of inland waterways that potentially confers it with maritime power that can transform the country into a prosperous place on earth.
He also affirmed the Federal Ministry of Transportation’s commitment to the successful attainment of the overall objective of the Navigational Charts Project in line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s vision for the holistic and sustainable development of the maritime sector and the Inland Waterways in particular.
He commended the Sealink Promotional Company Limited, the NEXIM and African Export-Import Bank for funding the project, the Nigerian Navy and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) for jointly conducting the survey exercise.
The event took place at the NAF Conference Center, Abuja, in the company of Boss Mustapha, the secretary to the government of the Federation; the Minister of Finance, Budget and National Planning; Magdalene Ajani, the permanent secretary of the Federal Ministry of Transportation; Vice Admiral A.Z Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff; Managing Directors of Nexim and Afrexim Banks, heads of parastatals under the Federal Ministry of Transportation, senior officers, both serving and retired of the Nigerian Navy and other well-meaning Nigerians.