By Hassan Haruna Ginsau
Bashir Dalhatu revealed to delegates at the on-going National conference yesterday that the River Niger had already been dredged.
Dalhatu, who is representing Jigawa state at the conference is also the Chairman of the National inland waterways, a position which he said put him in a position of knowledge on the matter. He told delegates during deliberations on the conference’s committee on Transport in which the issue prominently featured that the River had actually been dredged.
Said Dalhatu, “There has been a lot of discussion about dredging of the River Niger, let me first of all say that actually the River Niger has been dredged. I myself went in a boat from Baro to Onitsha, so it is actually dredged.”
It is based on this information that he went on to urge that all that was left was for the conference to recommend to the Government that the continuous maintenance dredging be commenced and for it to stay that way.
“The dredging of this river is very vital for economic, social and even tourism. Actually part of the transportation system in this country, the river transport ion is the least developed and that is where you have the best potentials and the cheapest means of transportation,” Dalhatu added.
However, a delegate, Hon. Chief Obi Anoliefo, representing the House of reps forum however contested Dalhatu’s information considering the issue.
Said Anoliefo, “I beg to disagree with the last speaker (Dalhatu) who was emphatic that river Niger has been dredged, some of us from Anambra state say we plan to conduct a football match on the River Niger directly opposite the River ports close to the Niger bridge to call the attention of the Federal Government to the fact that the River Niger is disappearing at least at that part of the country.
Dalhatu went on to decry the lives been lost on Nigerian waters, noting that it was as a result of the undeveloped transportation practices and methods been used on these waterways.
“Unfortunately this country has been losing so many lives on water from people using rudimentary modes of river transportation, especially these wooden canoes without using life jackets and therefore we lose many people. This is one of the unfortunate incidences, but actually should this government continue with the interest it has shown on the development of the gentries on these rivers and their communities it is actually going to make river transportation a new, well acceptable means of cheap transportation in Nigeria.”
He commended the committee for doing very well on the matters of aviation, railways and road transportation while also commending the progress that had been achieved.
He however opposed the committee’s recommendation proposing that the Federal Government should hand back intra-state federal roads to the State governments and retain only the highway priority roads in line with the road development plan in order to reduce financial burdens on the FG.
“You cannot leave the state governments grappling with the payment of salary and other essential services to lump them with road networks. So the government should take more than just the trunk A roads and continue to develop other road networks within the states,” he said.