Charting,mapping lower River Niger and River Benue delight Chief of Naval Staff

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By Correspondent in Lokoja.

The Chief of Naval Staff, Vice-Admiral Awwal Gambo, says Niger-Benue inland waterway port project is a government’s statement that would expand the nation’s transportation system, through waterways and improve its economy.

He stated this on Wednesday at the flagging off of the survey, mapping and charting way for the lower River Niger and River Benue at Ajaokuta in Kogi State.

The Vice Admiral assured government of Navy’s commitment towards bringing out world class chart that would meet international standard for maritime safety and national security.

Mrs Dabney Shell-Holma, Chairperson, Sealinks Consortium, one of the companies executing the project, said it would open up the country’s inland waterways to 25 African countries and Europe in transportation and ensure trade connectivity.

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She said that the project, covering 932,000 square kilometres, would provide jobs for more than 5,000 Nigerian youths,when completed.

“I am sure British Government will be celebrating what we are doing here today and will say, Nigeria has finally woken up from sleep.

“It’s a fact that 25 countries within the sub-African region are crippled because of lack of waterways, thereby making maritime or shipping business very difficult,”she said.

Shell-Holma recalled that for more than 10 years, “we have been hoping to see this day and thanks be to God it’s happening for real at Ajeokuta, the best Port for the waterways.

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“Sealinks Consortium is grateful to Afreximbank and NEXIM which have committed 750,000 dollar-grant to Improve Nigeria’s inland waterways operations which when completed will reduce transportation challenges in Nigeria by 50 per cent and boost the nation’s economy, ” she added.

Mr George Muoghalu, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), expressed NIWA’s commitment to ensure the successful execution of the project.

“The project is designed to directly improve the navigability of the nation’s inland waterways and enhance efficiency and safety of navigation,” he explained.

Muoghalu said the authority, among other efforts, had acquired two state-of-the-art hydrographic survey vessels to guarantee continuous survey of waterways, purchased 20 patrol boats and ambulances to enhance the safety of navigation on the highways.

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The Governor of the state, Alhaji Yahaya Bello, who flagged off the project, also expressed delight over the inauguration of the project, adding that “it is a pride of Kogi citizens,” and Nigerians as a whole.

Bello expressed confidence that the project, when completed, would provide jobs to more Nigerians and turn around the nation’s transportation and stimulate development.

Our Correspondent gathered that Nigerian Navy, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Nigeian Export and import (NEXIM) Bank, have commenced the survey and charting for the lower River Niger and River Benue to enhance waterway port and stimulate socio-commercial activities in the country.




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