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Oyetola Commissions Landmark Projects at NIWA: A New Era for Nigeria’s Inland Waterways


The Honourable Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, HE Adegboyega Oyetola, CON, recently embarked on a pivotal one-day working visit to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) in Lokoja, Kogi State.

During this visit, Oyetola inaugurated several landmark projects aimed at enhancing the operational capabilities and safety standards of Nigeria’s inland waterways, marking a significant advancement for the sector.

In his address, Minister Oyetola underscored the critical role of the maritime sector in bolstering Nigeria’s balance of trade, strengthening the naira, and creating employment opportunities. “The Federal Ministry of Marine and Blue Economy is determined to maximize the comparative advantages our maritime resources present,” he declared, aligning his mission with President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s Renewed Hope Agenda.

A highlight of the visit was the celebration of the newly implemented Water Transportation Code. This regulatory framework is anticipated to standardize water transportation, reduce accidents, and create a more structured environment for potential investors. Oyetola commended NIWA’s management for their dedicated efforts in bringing this vital code to fruition.

Among the projects inaugurated were fifteen boats of various capacities and purposes, designed to enhance surveillance, safety enforcement, and emergency response across Nigeria’s waterways. The new fleet includes three surveillance boats, five safety enforcement boats, a gun patrol boat, a 62-seater passenger boat to replace traditional wooden canoes, three water ambulances, and two hydrographic survey boats equipped with advanced multi-beam echo sounders.

“These initiatives fulfill our commitment to ensuring our inland waterways are well-utilized for both cargo shipment and passenger transportation,” remarked Minister Oyetola. He also pledged to tackle both internal and external challenges that impede NIWA’s operations, ensuring continuous improvement and expansion of navigable waterways.

Looking to the future, the Minister revealed ambitious plans to increase navigable waterways by at least 2,000 kilometers through comprehensive dredging. He also highlighted ongoing efforts to finalize the disbursement of the Cabotage Vessel Financing Fund (CVFF), which aims to support the development of the maritime sector.

Oyetola called upon the private sector to invest in and partner with the government, leveraging the numerous opportunities within the maritime industry to foster sustainable development. “We will continue to create an enabling environment, develop supportive policies, and offer necessary assistance to grow the Inland Waterways segment,” he assured.

Kogi State Governor, Alhaji Usman Ododo, represented by his deputy, Comrade Salifu Joel, praised President Bola Ahmed Tinubu for appointing the right person as NIWA’s Managing Director. “When we were coming here, our people asked where we were going, I told them we were going to a NIWA event. They asked, ‘Which one is NIWA?’ This means until now, no one knows NIWA. But we know NIWA now because the President has appointed the right person that is making an impact,” he said.

In his welcome address, Mr. Bola Oyebamiji, the Managing Director/CEO of NIWA, expressed gratitude for the Honourable Minister’s support and guidance in driving organizational reforms and enhancing operational efficiency. He outlined the agency’s proactive measures, including the implementation of education grants, promotion letters, and medical packages for staff, aimed at boosting morale and productivity.

Oyebamiji also highlighted NIWA’s initiatives in public engagement, emergency response, and enforcement, culminating in the launch of the first phase of water marshal initiatives. These efforts, coupled with the unveiling of the Transportation Code, underscore NIWA’s commitment to ensuring the safety and efficiency of inland water transportation.

Additionally, Permanent Secretary Mr. Oloruntola Olufemi commended the NIWA management for their achievements so far and encouraged continued progress. He also assured NIWA of the ministry’s unwavering support in actualizing its mandate.

The inauguration of these projects by Minister Oyetola marks a significant step forward in the development of Nigeria’s maritime infrastructure, promising enhanced safety, efficiency, and growth for the sector.

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