River Niger May Dry Up in 25 Years
By Alhaii Isa Yuguda
Minister of Transport
This Day (Lagos)
August 24, 2001
Posted to the web August 24, 2001
By Lillian Okenwa
The Minister of State for Transport, Alhaii Isa Yuguda has warned that if the River Niger is not dredged now, it would dry up in the next 25 years.
Yuguda, who made this statement when he led a delegation of the Ministry and its Parastatals on a courtesy call to the Deputy Governor of Delta State, Chief Benjamin Elue in Asaba, announced that a scientific study which was conducted confirmed that if the dredging was not done now, the river would dry up in the next 25 years.
He informed the Deputy Governor that a meeting of Lake Chad Basin Commission had been held to find ways of recovering 70 kilometres already lost in the Lake Chad because nobody cared to dredge it when the recession began about 15 years ago.
The Minister therefore urged the Delta State Government to prevail on the communities to Provide conducive environment to enable the dredging company, Inter-Continental Port Limited to commence work.
Alhaii Yuguda stated that because of the urgency in completing the dredging Project within a record time, the Federal Executive Council had vested in the Ministry of Transport the responsibility of ensuring that work commenced immediately in the interest of Deltans and Nigerians.
He emphasised that the Federal Government attached an "overwhelming importance to this huge economic investment that it directed my ministry to liaise with the Delta State Government and all stockholders in order to examine the Possibility of resolving the communal interference in the dredging Project."
He pointed out that with large quantum of work in pipeline and the volume of economic activities anticipated in the next couple of years, President Olusegun Obasanjo has approved the extension of the on-going construction of rail corridor to the Warri Port from Aladja and Warri town.
This he said is expected to Provide about 5 thousand job opportunities for the People of the Riverine communities in Particular and other Nigerians in general.
The Minister noted that the first standard gauge rail construction corridor in Nigeria was nearing completion in Warri adding that this corridor was initially Planned to ferry raw materials from Aladia Steel complex to Delta Steel complex which, with the President's approval, would now be used for other economic activities stretching from the East to the North.
He further stated that apart from being the first beneficiaries, of the first standard gauge rail construction in Nigeria, the State was critical to the success of the transport Sector with the bulk of River Niger discharging in the Delta.
This he emphasised, formed the basis of the Federal Government Programme of dredging River Niger up to Baro in Niger State and then to River Benue.
Responding on behalf of the state government, the Delta State Deputy Governor, thanked the Federal Govern-ment for considering Delta State vital in the Nigeria RailwaY network adding that the project was in line with the development effort of the State Government to bring succour the masses especially the riverine areas who had been neglected by Past governments.
He also thanked the Federal Ministry of transport for taking Pains to study the Possible impact of the dredging on the environment adding that if there had been opposition in the Past, It was because of apprehension over what had been happening in the past.
He requested for a copy of the report to enable the State Government enlighten the communities on the Project and its impact on them.
He said the communities had misconstrued the dredging
to oil drilling which had left their environment and aquatic life devastated
in the Past. He assured that the State Government "would do everything
Possible to see that the Project is not disturbed in anyway" while appealing
to the Management of Inter-Continental Port Limited to liaise with the