According to Business Day, House of Representatives on Wednesday unveiled plans to investigate the N24 billion abandoned dredging and establishment of land ports at Idaho and Jamata areas of Kogi State.
The resolution was passed following the adoption of the motion sponsored by Benjamin Okolo, who underscored the importance of the project to Nigerian economic development.
He observed that the project to dredge the Lower River Niger was one of the most important strategic actions initiated by the administration of late President Umaru Musa Yar’Adua.
He explained that the project, which stretched through 572 kilometres, will impact positively on 152 communities on the bank of River Niger in Edo, Anambra, Bayelsa, Imo, Delta, Kogi, Niger and River stars respectively.
According to the lawmaker, plans were also initiated to establish seven inland ports at Agenebode in Edo state, Yenegoa in Bayelsa state, Baro in Nigeria state and Idah in Kogi state, Aguata in Anambra state and Ogbabe in Abia State as well as the rehabilitation and expansion od the Onitsha River Port and establishment of a River Training Institute.
While expressing displeasure over the status of the project, Okolo noted that “despite the contractual agreements for both capital and maintenance for the dredging of the 118km from Onitsha to Idah and establishment of Land port at Idaho awarded to Messrs Van Oord Nigeria Limited at the cost of N10,399,867,317, work on the said project never took off your to this day.
“The dredging of 108km from Idah to Jamata which was awarded to Messrs Van Oord Nigeria Limited at the cost of N13,806,242,793 took off skeletally and was said to have reached 62 percent completion as at 2014 but we later abandoned,” he lamented.
While stressing the need for the intervention of the House, the lawmaker expressed concern that economic activities that could have been revitalised by reason of these dredging activities have renowned comatose and the people, who engage in these activities are seriously groaning in frustration.
Okolo maintained that the safe and alternative means of transporting goods and services through the river from one part of the country to another and cargoes coming into and departing Nigeria through the seaports, which the dredging activities were meant to guarantee are yet to see the light of the day.
To this end, the House resolved that the Committee on Ports, Harbour and Waterways should investigate the abandonment of the contract and report back within four weeks for further legislative action.
In the same vein, the House urged Federal Government to deploy gun boats snd more security personnel on a permanent basis to the Bonny sea and other waterways in the country with the view to ensure security of lives across the areas.
The resolution was passed following the adoption of the motion on the need to curb security challenges of sea piracy on Bonny Waterways as sponsored by Randolph Brown and three other lawmakers.
The House also urged Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), the Marine Police and other security agencies to rise up to the occasion and curb these incessant attacks on travellers on the Bonny sea.
To this end, Speaker Yakubu Dogara mandated the Committee on Maritime Safety, Education and Administration to liaise with NIMASA to cause a review of the sea worthiness of boats that ferry passengers and goods across the Bonny sea and other Waterways across Nigeria with a view to issuing certificates/licences of sea worthiness before the board could operate on the waterways.
According to the proponent of the motion, the pirates attack board conveying passengers and goods on the sea, robbing, maiming and sometimes raping, even pregnant and elderly women or kidnapping persons for payment of ransom and sometimes killing their victims at a minimum interval of twice a week.
Source: Business Day