Given the huge, but not fully tapped potential in the Nigerian abundant waterways across the country, concerned stakeholders have called for their optimal utilization so as to impact more positively on the economy.
In fact, while it has been established that 28 out of the 36 states of the federation can be accessed through waters, it is rather sad that the potentiality available in this sector has not been adequately tapped.
This development has made stakeholders in the maritime sector to call for the maximum exploitation of the waterways in a bid to reduce the enormous stress on the highways occasioned by the high volumes of vehicular traffic conveying passengers.
This is why Mr. Zebulon Ikokide, President, Nigeria Institute of Freight Forwarding and Customs Brokers (NIFFCB); has said that the debris of ship wrecks on the waterways should be cleared to make the waterways navigable.
He said, “Nigeria can make good use of the waterways in various ways, because the maritime industry is very large such that we have so many vessels coming in.
However, one of the things I noticed on our waterways is that there are wrecks in the water, and that had caused many ships not to come in. Though, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA),
Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and other government agencies are trying to remove all the wrecks, the waterways are big and so it can create jobs for many people. He said that Nigerians should to access loans that will enable them to partake in the industry.
Nigeria can make effective use of the waterways by allowing indigenous citizens have access to loan from banks so as to enable them to buy ships also take part in loading refined crude. Dredging should be done on the water for effective usage” he added.
Mr. Bolaji Sunmola, Chairman, National Association of Stevedoring Companies (NASC) called for proper policing and the provision of security on the waterways.
He said, “There should be proper policing and safeguarding of our waterways. There are reported cases of piracy and abduction of people on the waterways every day.
For us to maximise the use of our waterways, I feel the Nigerian Inland Waterways should do a lot of publicity using other government agencies like NPA, NIMASA and so on to advertise the benefits of waterways to Nigerians because many people do not know the importance of the waterways.
Our waterways need to be dredged quarterly because there are so many wrecks in it which is not good for the image of our country.
According to him, “Our waterways can also be used for effective transportation if well managed, not necessarily transporting cargoes, but conveying humans on ferry. That way, Nigerians will see the use of the waterways.”