Barge operators happy as Nigeria unveils navigational charts of Lower River Niger

LR: Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral A.Z Gambo, Minister of Transportation Sambo and the Secretary to the Government of the Federation, Boss Mustapha unveiling the charts

The unveiling of the the Navigational Charts of the Lower River Niger from Lokoja in Kogi State to Burutu in Delta State by the Minister of Transportation, Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, has been applauded by the President of Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN), Bunmi Olumekun.

The Minister unveiled the Navigational charts which cover 594 km (321 Nautical Miles) with a total survey area of 1719.8 Square Kilometers at the NAF Conference Center, Abuja, yesterday.

The BOAN President Olumekun said that barge operators encounter a lot of obstacles while navigating through the river, noting that the charts would boost barge operations’ contributions to the GDP of the nation and African.

However, the Honourable Minister said the project is in tandem with the statutory responsibilities and objectives of the Federal Ministry of Transportation. He said the project would boost the efforts of the President Muhammadu Buhari-led Federal Government towards the development and operation of an efficient and safe Inland Waterways Transportation Network.

“A well-developed and efficient Inland Water Transportation is necessary for an integrated and functional multi–modal transportation system, whose major pillar is dependent upon accurate and timely hydrographic surveys/charts. The objective of this Project is to provide direct maritime linkages within Nigeria and between African countries, thereby catalyzing Nigeria’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) growth, attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI), creating highly needed jobs, and boosting internal as well as intra – African trade.

The Minister said that the US economy today is supported by revenues of over $70b from 600 million tons of cargo transported through its inland waterways, creating hundreds of thousands of jobs, building and growing Agro-industrial communities along the waterway channels and thus spreading economic prosperity throughout the length and breadth of its waterways network.

“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!

Sambo said that Nigeria is blessed with an 800 km coastline and over 10,000 km of inland waterways that potentially confers it with such maritime power that in itself alone, can transform this country into a great and 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 laudable initiative of Sealink Promotional Company Limited with funding from the NEXIM and African Export–Import Bank,  the Nigerian Navy and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), who jointly conducted the survey exercise,  an effort never before undertaken in the history of our country.

“On this note, I want to specifically express my gratitude and that of the Ministry to the Managing Directors of NEXIM Bank and AfriExim Bank for providing the necessary funds for the execution of this Project, the Chief of the Naval Staff and the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority for their collaborative efforts that ensured the successful execution of this Project, and I look forward to more of this effort to extend the Hydrographic Survey of Inland Waterways nationwide.

“While congratulating all critical stakeholders on this auspicious unveiling, please rest assured of our continued commitment and support. God bless the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and God bless you all. Amen,” he said.

Olumekun said “I want to congratulate our Honourable Minister of Transportation Mu’azu Jaji Sambo, Nigerian Navy, Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority, George Moghalu, and others for this remarkable achievement of navigational chart of the Lower River Niger. This has been a major obstacle for barges to navigate this corridor for so long. And I  also congratulate BOAN members. This is going to boost barge operations and Nigeria GDP and African.”

L-R: Managing Director, NEXIM Bank, Abubakar A. Bello, BOAN President Bunmi Olumekun and other officials of BOAN during a meeting between NEXIM and BOAN

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