THE Federal Government has launched a new water transportation scheme that is aimed at encouraging Nigerians to imbibe traveling by water and reduce over dependence on traveling by road.
The scheme which was kick-started with the acquisition of 50 boats is aimed at covering the littoral areas of the country. The scheme which is driven by the management of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on behalf of the government, was launched in Lokoja late December 2012 with a 23 seater ferry boat that conveyed about 13 passengers to Onitsha from lokoja, the kogi state capital.
Managing Director of the NIWA, Ahmed Aminu Yar’Adua, who launched the scheme, addressed the passengers before their voyage from Lokoja, described water transportation as the safest means of transport.
According to Yar’adua, it was the first time government through NIWA would embark on commercial transportation on the dredged river Niger, adding that the maiden voyage was a test run and that other route will soon be introduced.
He said the whole idea was to let the people know that water transportation was possible in the country and the easiest way to decongest the road.
According to him water transportation was possible, especially through collaboration with the private sector.
”NIWA is expecting about six boats but only one has arrived now and by the time others arrived we would put them on other routes. We will put one in Lagos, two in Yenegua – Brass, one in Port Harcourt and one in Calabar- Oron. We also hope to put one in Onitsha that will ply the south- south area as far as Bomadi and also we want to deploy another one from Lokoja to Makurdi,” he said.
While emphasizing the importance of water transport, Yar’Adua said at the end the journey people would believe that water transportation ‘is safe’ and will begin to patronize it
He said private sector would soon key into the initiative as many companies had already indicated interest in the business.
“About three or four people have shown interest that they want to partner with us and we will soon sit down and discuss that. It is still something new so there are things to be sorted out.
“Now price is not really the matter, we have to continue bringing in people so that they get used to it. As the maiden voyage was successful it is an indication that water transportation is possible,” he said.
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