National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Republic of Bangladesh have agreed to collaborate to enhance activities in the waterways of Nigeria and Bangladesh.
Dr George Moghalu, the Managing Director of NIWA said this when the Ambassador of Bangladesh to Nigeria, Masudur Rahman led a delegation to visit him in Abuja on Friday.
“So there’s quite a lot we are going to learn from you. We are going to share ideas.
“We’re going to see how wherever you have gained so much mileage, we’ll try to look at it and see how we can adapt it for our own successes.
“We know both Bangladesh and Nigeria are all developing countries. So there is nothing wrong with our learning from each other and our sharing of ideas.
There are also some areas where we have strength, which Bangladesh will also learn;
so, I want to assure you that we (NIWA) accept the invitation.
“We are going to work out the modalities, we’re going to visit, we’re going to engage our counterparts in Bangladesh so that we can gain from their experience.
“In areas where they have achieved stronger mileage, we copy from them, there is nothing wrong with that so long as it will help us in developing our economy.
“So I feel honoured, the management of NIWA feels honoured that you have come here today to educate us to share ideas with us, to let us know what is happening in Bangladesh and to what extent we can leverage on it to develop our own country, ’’Moghalu said.
The NIWA boss reiterated that the maritime sector had enormous potential that could contribute greatly to the development of the country’s economy, and thus should not be ignored.
According to him, if the waterway is developed in the way it should, it will trigger growth in the GDP of the country.
`’It may interest you to know that by water, you can reach 28 states in Nigeria, out of our 36 states. If we develop our waterways.
“We have over 10,000 kilometers of waterways, yes, as at now it is only about 3500 kilometers that are all year round navigable.
“But there’s potential to open up the other sites, the remaining 5,600 or 5,800 there about can still be opened for navigation.’’
Moghalu noted that the authority would be glad to also collaborate in the areas of dredging and boat building as it would help develop capacity.
He said:“ I am one of those who believe that we need to open up our waterways so that we can decongest the pressure we have on our road infrastructure.
“This is because all over the world, major cargo, bulk cargo is always moved by water or by rail, not necessarily by road, because the roads are not designed to carry such weight.
“Therefore, anything you can do to make sure you remove these cargoes from the road and put them by water or by rail for which is what it was designed for, then you see that you would have achieved two things at the same time.
“That is getting the pressure off your roads and putting into effective use your waterway system.’’
Earlier, the Bangladesh Ambassador said both countries have similarities and could engage in versatile areas of cooperation from food security, agriculture, digital technologies, textile, health among others.
According to Rahman, Bangladesh has about 800 rivers with 52 international rivers from India, China, Nepal with a huge delta.
He said one of the things the country had done was to devise means of turning its challenges due to excess water into opportunities.
He said: “I have seen in the south of Nigeria that you have more rivers and these rivers can be a huge source of marine products, that can give huge resources and create lots of job opportunities if it can be organised.
“The rivers can also act as connectivity between Nigeria and different regions that have a huge generation of revenue and employment as well.
“In Africa, I think no country is as close as Nigeria in terms of its popularities and acquaintance in Bangladesh.
“ I think there is huge potential. The High Commission will give all possible cooperation in terms of your collaborations that you need to seek in dredging, river training, and creating river bed economic fishing practices.
“Bangladesh has those capacities and capabilities and I think it can be a win-win collaboration between Bangladesh and Nigeria.
“We need to work on the synergies, get ourselves moving and I look forward to you coming up with ideas which we will collaborate with you and promote our bilateral relations.’’