Mr Danladi Ibrahim, the Acting Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), said the Baro port, Niger, had been completed and was ready to start operations.
Addressing newsmen in Lagos on Monday, Ibrahim said the Baro and Lokoja ports would be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of this year.
He said NIWA had supplied the cargo-handling equipment which was being installed at Baro port.
“President Buhari will commission Baro and Lokoja ports before the end of 2018.
“There is provision in the 2018 budget for the construction of roads that will link Baro port to Lokoja and Abuja Express Way.
“We have engaged another contractor to fast-tack the construction of Lokoja port and also working toward completion of Oguta port in Imo,” Ibrahim said.
He also said the concession of Onitsha Port had been completed and the concessionaires would soon start operation.
“Finally the concessioning of Onitsha port has been completed; we opened the financial bids on July 3, 2018 and we will pick the most competent concessionaire.
“Any moment from now, the concessionaire will take over Onitsha port,” said Ibrahim.
He said there was need for NIWA to continue to engage in continuous maintenance of all the channels under its jurisdiction.
According to him, the authority has been calling on international organisations to partner with it.
Ibrahim said NIWA’s Bill which had been before the National Assembly for the past 10 years had passed second reading.
“This would help the organisation to be independent like other sister government agencies.
“The bill would increase the capacity of the authority and also create room for Public Private Partnership (PPP) and provide numerous jobs for unemployed Nigerians,” he said.
Ibrahim said NIWA had included the dredging of River Benue to complement the River Niger in its 2019 masterplan.
He said the authority would start the dredging of Baro river soon.
According to him, the dredging of Ajaokuta – Onitsha waterways is ongoing, and that NIWA will purchase barges for transshipment of bulk cargoes from Lagos ports to Onitsha and Baro ports.
Ibrahim said NIWA was employing PPP approach for its channel management with some foreign partners.