The Minister of Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, has said the Federal Government has awarded contract for the dredging of the critical part of River Benue.
Mr. Amaechi, who disclosed this at the 2017 budget defence before members of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport on Thursday in Abuja, said that work will soon commence.
He said the project was a fallout of the decision of the Federal Government to maximize the use of the resources of 12 major rivers in the country.
The minister added that the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri to Baro, covering a distance of 572 kilometres had also commenced.
He added that Baro River Port had achieved 95 per cent completion, adding that arrangement was being made for the provision of cargo handling equipment and turning of the basin to port.
According to him, government has approved the upward review of fees and tariffs for the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), to enable the country look inward and improve its economic base.
He said the government was determined to encourage a river dependent sustainable economic development through marine transportation.
“The 2017 budget is for economic recovery and growth, therefore, the Federal Ministry of Transportation and its agencies under the 2017 budget seek to consolidate and sustain the achievements and performances recorded in the past years.
“We will focus on the sustainability of the gains achieved in the sector, in terms of port infrastructure development, maritime administration, human capacity building and effective technical and economic regulation.
“The Federal Executive Council has approved the Outline Business Case (OBC) for Ibom Deep Sea Port on 60, 20, 20 per cent basis between the concessionaire, Akwa Ibom government and Nigerian Ports Authority.
“On Badagry deep sea port, FEC has approved the OBC for the project to be funded 100 per cent by the proponent,” the minister said.
Ahmed Yerima, Chairman, Senate Committee on Marine Transport, said the senate was committed to ensuring that objectives of the 2017 budget were achieved through oversight functions.
Mr. Yerima said that as soon as the budget proposal was considered and approved, rigorous oversight would follow to ensure proper implementation.
He said that the senate would work with the executive to get the country out of recession, adding that they would support any agency of government that showed commitment.
The Chairman, however, said the committee had approved the ministry’s N1.3 billion budget estimate for 2017.