By Roland Ekama
Following last week’s remarks by the Secretary to the Government of the Federation (SGF), Mr. Boss Mustapha, where he lamented that the nation’s inland waterways have been underutilized, stakeholders in the waterways transportation business have reacted by calling on Nigerians to hold the ex NIWA Managing Director responsible for the failure to utilise the nation’s navigable channels.
Volunteering opinions in Lagos over the weekend, the stakeholders criticized the SGF over the underutilization of 6,000 kilometers out of about 10,000 kilometers of the nation’s inland waterways, leaving a paltry 4,000 kilometers being used for transportation purposes.
According to them, Mustapha who spent over a year in office as NIWA boss failed to contribute to turn around the fortunes of the nation's inland waterways for public good.
An executive member of a water transport union who prefers anonymity, lambasted the SGF for making such a comment publicly, saying that it's a failure on his part whilst in office as NIWA MD.
He lamented that NIWA operations then under him (the SGF) failed to execute any meaningful programme to put the waterways into use for public good.
"It is a shame for Boss Mustapha to lament about the underutilization of the nation's waterways at a public function when we all know he had been there for over a year without achieving anything"
"Since his appointment as SGF has he ever thought of influencing policies that could boost the inland waterways transportation?
"Nigerians should hold him responsible for the failed navigable channels we have in the country “, he lamented.
He noted that since the SGF’s exit from office as MD of NIWA for over six months, the agency has appeared rudderless as there is no substantive head to activate policy decisions that can make the agency relevant especially in serving the public.
Discussing inland waterways transportation and the relevance of NIWA, a social commentator, Oladipo Olayokun, recently harped on the need for government to appoint a substantive managing director to oversee her affairs. "It behoves on the government to look beyond politics while appointing people to critical professional positions like that of NIWA MD".
Olayokun said: "If the former MD has come out to say that our waterways are underutilized, then the question is are we appointing the right people to head some of these organizations?
"It's an open secret that Nigeria is yet to harness the potentials of her water resources as is the case with other countries with similar wealth potentials"
Mustapha had told the Nigerian/Ukraine Trade and Investment Round-table held in Abuja that "I believe that if our waterways are fully developed, it can take away pressure off our roads as the bulk of our cargoes can be transported through the waterways."