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Hydrographers finish lower River Niger survey

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By Abiodun Okunloye

A team of the Nigerian Navy and NIWA collaborate to boost coastal trade.

Navigational charts and Assessment of the Lower River Niger have been completed by a team of hydrographers from the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigerian Navy. With the support of the Nigeria Export-Import Bank (NEXIM) and Afreximbank, this collaborative initiative was unveiled in a historic ceremony in Abuja that was also attended by Boss Gida Mustapha, the Secretary to the Government of the Federation as the events Special Guest. It includes 12 paper as well as electronic charts to safeguard the lower river Niger channel and encourage commerce between inland regions and the shore.

The mid-1970s closure of Burutu Port caused the river channel to become silted, making navigation difficult. Hence, NEXIM engaged Afreximbank, Nigerian Navy, and NIWA for the survey/charting operation. However, a project initiated a few years ago, the Sealink Project, aims to construct a regional shipping line that serves the regional market. This line’s operations will reduce passage travel time and transportation costs and improve Trade connectivity and entrepreneurialism. The initial idea was later broadened to include the creation of inland waterways to aid in transporting and exporting bulk cargo, especially solid minerals.

Coastal infrastructure deficit will be bridged to stimulate growth.

In welcome remarks at the ceremony, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NEXIM Bank, Abba Bello, stated that the Nigerian Export–Import Bank, as a trade policy institution, had begun on the strategic policy initiative to integrate coastal Infrastructure deficit towards cutting Logistics cost to stimulate commerce through the advancement of the Regional Sealink Project. This special initiative, is being developed within the context of a public-private partnership with the goal of making it possible for the Bank to widen the national export market greatly.

Furthermore, Prof Benedict Oramah, the President of Afreximbank, who was represented at the event by Remigius Nwachukwu, the Regional Manager, commended the work of NEXIM, the Nigerian Navy, and NIWA for promoting regional commerce in Africa. In addition to this, he reaffirmed the commitment of Afreximbank to offer assistance to savvy Investors who are working on bankable projects so that they can make the most of the rising commercial potential in the marine logistics industry.

This will set the country in a good posture for investments.

According to Minister of Finance, Budget, and National Planning Mrs. Shamsuna Ahmed, who Director of Home Finance Mohammed Ali represented, the Regional Sealink Project has been recognized as one of the ministry’s ministerial missions, and this is due to the necessity to support initiatives that would encourage and attract Investment from the Private Sector in maritime infrastructure. She stated this was done to better position the country for International Trade in bulk goods like minerals and Agriculture. The Minister also expressed her admiration for the Nigerian Export-Import Bank’s relentless pursuit of policy initiatives as well as the inter-agency cooperation that has resulted in initiatives such as the project.

Rear Admiral A.Z. Gambo, the Chief of Naval Staff, in his remarks, commended all the key stakeholders and reaffirmed the Nigerian Navy’s dedication to providing all the logistical and technical assistance required to ensure the success of the Sealink operation. He stressed the crucial part that the Nigerian Navy, directed by the Naval Hydrographer, played in generating the Charts, noting that this happened to be the first time an indigenous Nigerian agency managed a project of that kind.

Effort channeled through Sealink deserves commendation.

Lastly, the Federal Minister of Transportation Alhaji Jaji Sambo reaffirmed the government’s dedication to completing the Project, as it is in accordance with President Muhammadu Buhari’s agenda for the long-term growth and prosperity of the country’s maritime industry and waterways. He added that the Nigerian government had to recognize and reward the efforts of the Sealink Promotional Company Limited, which was funded by NEXIM and the Afreximbank, and which collaborated with the Nigerian Navy and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on the survey exercise itself. That’s a level of work that’s never been done in the country before.


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