Maritime stakeholders under the aegis of the Nigerian Indigenous Ship-Owners Association (NISA), has accused the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) of bungling the N43bn dredging contract of the Lower River Niger in-between 2011 to 2015.
Speaking with the Nigerian Tribune exclusively, the NISA President Engineer Aminu Umar challenged NIWA to make public the current state of the depth of the River Niger despite claiming to have dredged it from Baro in Niger State to Warri in Delta State.
According to him, “we keep hearing that the River Niger has been dredged down to Warri, but how has that improved the traffic of vessels along that route? I don’t think that river was dredged.
“If truly NIWA dredged that River, then there ought to have been increase in movement of goods along that route. Nothing has changed before and after the so called dredging that they claimed to have done.
“To be honest with you, from the shipping community, we don’t think any dredging has taken place on that river.”
When reminded that NIWA budgeted N43bn for the dredging of the Lower River Niger contract, the NISA helmsman challenged the agency to come out public with details of what has been dredged.
“How can the Federal Government approve N43 billion for the dredging of the River Niger and nothing would have changed? How can such money have been spent on that river and it still looks like that?
“Please help us ask NIWA to make public the draft of the River Niger before and after the dredging. We need to know what such money was used for because we are talking of hundreds of millions of dollars if it is converted into foreign currency.
“Nothing has changed along that route. There is no increase in the movement of goods along that route. As far as we ship-owners are concerned, no dredging has taken place. NIWA should come out public with details of what they did with N43 billion on that river between 2011 to 2015,” he stated.
Efforts to get the Spokesman of NIWA, Mr Tayo Fadile to speak on the controversial River Niger dredging contract proved abortive as text messages and calls made to his mobile phones were not responded to as at the time of filing in this report.
It would be recalled that in 2011, the Federal Government approved the Lower River Niger Dredging Project from Warri in Delta State to Baro in Niger State at a sum of N43,334,712,332.10 to four different contractors namely Fung Tai Eng Company Nigeria Limited, Dredging International Service Nigeria Limited, Van Oord Nigeria Limited, and Williams Lloyds Technology Company Limited.