The Nigerian Shippers’ Council (NSC) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) have constituted a Joint Technical Committee to address factors mitigating the development of inland waterways transport in the country.
The eight-member committee saddled with the responsibility of attaining seamless movement of goods and persons through the country’s inland waterways, comprised Directors from NSC and General Managers from NIWA.
Speaking at the inauguration , the Executive Secretary of NSC, Mr Hassan Bello, charged the team to be diligent, while adding that the task if done properly, could bring enormous economic benefits for the nation.
“Recall that one of the critical functions of Shippers’ Council is the consideration of problems faced by shippers with regards to inland waterways transportation of goods and to advise the government on possible solutions thereto.
“The NSC in playing this role and in addition to its economic regulatory function, has the responsibility of ensuring seamless and effective cargo movement along the transport chains, reduce costs and facilitate trade,” he said.
Bello said these responsibilities supported the council’s continuous quest for collaborative partnerships with relevant agencies to drive programmes and projects that would change the face of the nation’s logistics chain.
“Our target is to ensure the availability, affordability, stability, predictability, adequacy and accessibility of transport services, facilitation of multi-modal approaches to movement of cargo and persons.
“Also, the development of critical transport infrastructure that support trade as well as enforcement of good service standards and best practice across all transport modes at reasonable costs in Nigeria,” he said.
He noted that Nigeria’s inland waterways of about 8,600km, stretched from Lagos and Port Harcourt to the north.
He said that river ports could support decongestion of the seaports through quicker evacuation of containers to the hinterland by barges.
“I have no doubt that our nation’s inland waterways hold high values for the transportation sector and we must therefore put adequate measures in place toward harnessing their potential.
“This can be through dredging and charting of the river channels, regulating inland waterways’ navigation.
“Also, linking the river ports with the economic centres such as the Inland Dry Ports and Container Freight Stations, connecting the inland waterways with roads and the railways to facilitate movement of goods to and from the hinterland,” the NSC boss said.
Bello said he was delighted by the disposition of the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu , toward the success of this business relationship between both agencies.
He, however, encouraged NIWA to take its regulation into inland waterways toward developing indigenous technical and managerial capacity for barge operations.
In his remarks, the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu who was represented by the General Manager, Marine, Mr Joseph Ororo stated that it was pertinent that the sector is adequately standardised.
He said such would ensure safe, secure and efficient service delivery for proper integration of barge operations into the nation’s transportation system.
He added that it would help to decongest our seaports and facilitate multi-modal approach to cargo evacuation.
He revealed that NIWA had licensed eight companies to begin barge operations from Lagos to Onitsha.
“We are so glad with this development. The committee has been setup and NIWA recently held a meeting with stakeholders on safety and other regulatory aspects of inland waterways transportation,” Ororo said.
Members of the committee include; the Director, Regulatory Services, NSC, Ms Ifeoma Ezedinma; the Director, Inland Transport Service, NSC, Mrs Ada Okam; the Director, Legal Services, NSC, Mr Tahir Idris; and the Director, Consumer Affairs Department, NSC, Chief Cajetan Agu.