By Ikechukwu Okaforadi and Musa Adamu
Senate Tuesday, mandated its Committees on Marine Transport; Works; and Public Procurement to investigate the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA in respect of the abandoned Baro Port project and make adequate recommendations to facilitate its early completion.
It also urged the federal government to make funds available to contractors handling Baro River Port project for final completion, and also transfer the roads project to Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, PIDF for better funding and execution.
Similarly, the upper legislative chamber advised the government to facilitate the rehabilitation of Narrow Gauge Railway in Baro to ensure rapid socio-economic growth of the country while there should be continuous dredging and maintenance by NIWA of the Rivers Niger and Benue to ensure its navigability.
Resolutions to these effect, were sequel to a motion sponsored by Senator Muhammad Bima (APC Niger South).
Bima in the motion titled: “Urgent need to complete all the necessary components of Baro River Port project of the Lower River Niger” and co – sponsored by 22 other Senators across party lines , declared that over N40billion has so far been expended on the various components of the Baro Port without achieving any significant progress towards utilisation of the port, wondering why “such a laudable project with all its potential benefits would be so neglected.”
He said the federal government awarded the contract for the dredging of the Lower River Niger, construction of the Baro Port, installation of cargo handling equipment and connecting access roads to ensure movement of goods and services to the Northern parts of the country in addition to the general improvement of socio-economic activities of the region.
According to him, “Baro Port project is expected to create 3,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs as well as improving our roads network by keeping heavy duty trailers and trucks off roads thereby expanding the life span of the roads.”
The lawmaker informed that the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri to Baro had been completed while the Baro Port and its cargo handling equipment have also been completed and commissioned on January 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari.
He further stated that the access roads which will facilitate movement of goods from Baro to the Northern parts was awarded in 2015 and 2018 for Lambata-Bida and Agaie-Katcha-Baro respectively, but lamented that the two major access roads, Lambata-Agaie and Agaie-Katcha-Baro respectively have only achieved about 20% and 2% progress.
He also regretted that funding of the access roads had been grossly inadequate as N670million and N4.5billion so far been released for the project out of the contract sum of N17billion and N33billion respectively.
Contributing, Senator Adamu Aliero (APC Kebbi Central), informed that the project was awarded during the administration of late President Musa Yar’Adua to create jobs and ensure easy movement of goods from Baro to other parts of the North, but expressed surprise that it was abandoned by his predecessors despite its economic benefits.
In his own, Senator Mohammed Musa (APC Niger East), urged the federal government to ensure early completion of the project, noting that doing so would advance economic prosperity of the people and industrial growth in parts of the country.