… formal operations is yet to commence – NIWA
By Seun Ibiyemi
Barely three months after President Muhammadu Buhari commissioned N6 billion Baro River Port complex in Niger state, the facility, according to Nigerian NewsDirect investigation, has been abandoned and ports equipment rotting away.
The Baro River Port that was commissioned in January 2019, was built by Chinese firm (CGCC Global Project Nigeria Limited) at a total cost of N 6billion. The port is equipped with a Mobile Harbour Crane, Transit shed, Administrative Block, fire hydrant system, water treatment plant, Reach stacker, 100KVA power generating set, and three numbers forklifts of various tonnages.
The President during the commissioning said that the port would reduce pressure of big trucks on the roads and create huge employment opportunities for Nigerians. The Baro River Port will also help decongest other similar ports in the country.
In a swift response, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Tayo Fadile, said that ship don’t berth at River ports. It is only barges, tug boats and ferries that berth at River ports.
Fadile added that full formal operations is yet to commence, partly because the port is one of the best ports being concessioned by ICRC and the process is ongoing. He noted that it is going to be private sector driven, which means that NIWA will play more of a regulatory role.
“It may be true that some informal activities are going on by some small private concerns, but once the port is fully commissioned, things will pick up.
“Furthermore, the Lokoja River Port that will compliment Baro port, is also nearing completion. The contract for the supply of mobile crane for the port was only recently awarded.”
Confirming Nigerian NewsDirect investigation, the senator representing Kaduna Central in the National Assembly, Senator Shehu Sani, posted on his official Twitter handle that, “No ship or vessel has arrived at Baro Port yet since commissioned”.
Recall that NIWA in a statement in November 2018, said that the access road leading to the River Port from the Gegu express way in Kogi State, is not motorable and needs urgent rehabilitation by the Federal Government if the project is to be of any economic value to the Nation.
The construction of Baro River Port in Niger State was completed two years ago and if put into use, will create more than two thousand jobs for the teaming youths and boost the economy of the State and the Nation.
Hitherto, in an interview with the Managing Director of First Index Nigeria Limited, Mr. Opeyemi Olabanji, the Contractor handling the installation of the Cargo handling equipment at the River Port, explained that they are going through serious challenges because of the deplorable condition of the access road, as they cannot move their cranes and other cargoes to the port
He confirmed to Nigerian NewsDirect that the cargo handling equipment are very heavy and the trucks carrying the equipment cannot pass through the bad road.
He is optimistic that the Federal Government would see the need to urgently fix the road in the interest of the and maritime sector and nation’s economy at large.
He however, commended the NIWA for the palliative measures they are putting in place to make sure that the equipment arrives at the River Port, but emphasised the need for a lasting solution to the deplorable condition of the road.
Baro River Port which is considered as the flagship port of the Northern part of the country, cannot function as it is now.
“So much funds have been invested in the Baro River Port project running into N3.5billion. It is embarrassing that the port still remains unused, simply because the major road leading to the port is impassable,” a source explained to Nigerian NewsDirect.
The Baro River Port has been completed for two years running now and the River port itself has continue to deteriorate due to lack of use of the port complex.