Chief (Dr.) George Moghalu was appointed on October 3, 2019 as the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) by President Muhammadu Buhari.
When he resumed office he made some solemn promise to continue with all ongoing, viable, and justifiable projects of the agency, as long as they conform to due process, and Act of the Agency.
For Chief Moghalu, everyday is usually like judgment day, in which he gives account of his works, and aim to improve, and develop the country’s inland waterways. No wonder, he works day and night, spending himself and being spent for that singleness of purpose which is to serve God and man.
And so the result is the springtime of total retooling and refocusing of NIWA, in line with the diversification agenda of President Muhammadu Buhari led administration, evincing his giant strides as a man with a heart for all in this socio-economic and humanitarian induced national assignment.
Chief Moghalu’s outstanding performances have been noticed by reputable organisations of international repute, who in turn conferred awards of Leadership and Excellent Performance on him.
Under his watch, NIWA has never spared the rod, in correcting any erring stakeholder in the waterways sector. News made the rounds of NIWA shutting down operations of the boat operator; Lalek Marine for failing to comply with regulations put in place against night movement and overloading of boats in Lagos.
So far, so good; below is the summary of his report card:
▪The fulfillment of the firm promise to complete and get ready the Onitsha Dry Sea Port. NIWA under Chief Moghalu has put in place all necessary things for effective operation of the port and are waiting for the completion of the concession process. The management has entered into agreement with Connect Rail Services Limited to kick start the lifting of goods from the port to other places in the country. The port is ready for use with all the facilities needed to operate effectively in place.
▪The inauguration of a task force to enforce safety standards on the waterways in order to provide security and sanity. For example, in Lagos the agency commissioned three patrol boats named PB Uyo, PB Daura and PB Badagry to monitor overloading of passenger boats which attribute to the high rate of incidents on the waterways.
▪Procurement of over 20 patrol boats, 9 modern ambulances and deployment of wreck removal equipment round the country’s inland waterways to enhance safety and against losing either boat operators themselves or passengers.
▪Launch of robust sensitization exercise against vandalization of Installed Marine Buoys and other Navigational Aids on Waterways which serves as navigational aids and improved protection of lives and properties.
▪Laying the foundation of a strong inter agency collaboration exercise with the Nigeria Police under the Inspect General of Police (IGP) Usman Alkali Baba ahead of the second test run of cargo shipments from Lagos to Onitsha River Port in a bid to decongest the Ports in Lagos State. This is imperative as statistics have shown that about sixty percent of cargoes coming into Nigerian Ports are destined to the South East of the country.
▪Engagement of ACTL (Akewa Colmar Terminal Limited) to move Cargoes from Lagos Ports via Burutu Port to Onitsha. The idea of hauling containers via Burutu Ports to Onitsha River port is to deliberately avoid the two small bridges of Gbarekolo and Bumandi.
Because the two bridges are too tiny and shallow for sea moving badges or vessels to ply through, that is why the company (ACTL) is considering the route from Lagos Ports to Burutu Port then to Onitsha River Port as final destination. NIWA under Chief (Dr.) George Moghalu is targeting about 1,000 containers to be hauled per trip from Lagos Ports to Onitsha River Port within the maximum duration of 4 days.
▪Creation of better enabling environment and support to staff in appreciation to their meritorious services to the Authority through presentation of gifts to outstanding and retiring staff of the Authority, part of efforts to motivate staff to put in their best and optimum performance in the development and growth of NIWA.
In the wake of COVID-19, NIWA woke up to its responsibilities, by issuing guidelines for a better-controlled inland waterways transportation and jetty operations regime.
These guidelines are in tandem with the directive of the Presidential Task force on COVID-19, to allow a gradual and controlled easing of the lockdown as announced by the President on March 27. It restricted movement of Boats/Ferries between the hours of 6:30 am and 5:30 pm.
Also, the loading capacity of all Boats and Ferries were pruned down at 60 per cent capacity until further notice. Which meant that a 20-passenger boat will be reduced to 12 passengers only.
NIWA also enforced the use of facemasks by all passengers before embarking and throughout the duration of travel.
These, among other cogent rules were put in place by the Waterway Agency.
In fact, to ameliorate the cost of operations for commercial boat operators, the authority directed all jetty operators to charge fifty percent of applicable jetty fees.
Other vigorous rehabilitation, reconstruction, renovation exercises of NIWA under Chief Dr. Moghalu are:
-Commissioning of a 36 Seater Ferry Boat at Yelwa-Yauri, Kebbi State.
-Provision of ferries from China to boast the nation’s water transport system.
-Building of more jetties round the country with viable ferry terminals.
Our waterways are undergoing optimum clearing of water hyacinth/removal of wrecks and the development for the benefit of the people.
Improved water transportation through adequate collaboration and synergy with sister agencies like the Ministry of Transport, NIMASA, Nigeria Navy, etc.
Examined and surveyed inland watercraft and shipyard operators, granted permit and licenses for sand dredging, pipeline construction, Dredged a number of slot and approved designs for qualified operators for the construction of inland river crafts.
Carried out hydrological and hydrographic surveys, river chart production, cartography, river mapping and aerial survey.
Chronicling how on Chieg Dr. George Moghalu has fared as NIWA MD, one cannot but agree that this is a pass mark, while looking forward to more extraordinary works, with reference to the insatiable desires of an Oliver Twist who will always ask for more.