Frontline private sector boat operators’ body, the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), is excited about the appointment of the new Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr Munirudeen Oyebamiji by President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.
The association with strategic presence across 28 littoral states in Nigeria stated that the appointment was timely and will stabilise the apex brown water regulatory agency to ensure sustainable growth and safety measures on waterways transportation ecosystem in the country, noting that the minister of marine and Blue economy, and former governor of Osun state, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola did his home work well on the new appointee.
Dr Gani Tarzan Balogun, National President of ATBOWATON, called on the new NIWA Managing Director to help champion a new lease of life for indigenous boat operators, particularly in areas of training and retraining, safety awareness and funding opportunities to acquire operational spare parts and watercrafts for its members.
He also advised the new appointee, a former commissioner for finance in Osun State, to critically reappraise developmental goals expectations of NIWA, enthrone, conserve strategic growth targets, and create an enabling environment for serious private sector participation and visibility on water transportation, maritime tourism and the dredging of waterways space across the country.
Dr Gani Balogun who assured the new NIWA boss of ATBOWATON support, further advised him to wear his life jacket, take to practical oversight of the huge waterways potentials across the country, factor quick wins and collaborate with the private sector and relevant agencies in government to champion and change the narratives of niwa.
To administratively make NIWA easy to reach and engaging, the ATBOWATON leader who has been in the forefront of campaign to open up the national waterways space for investment in recreation, logistics, and new maritime cities, appealed to the niwa chief executive to move niwa corporate head office to Abuja or Lagos, away from the Lokoja back water location.
“Lokoja should serve as an Area office and inview of the fact that most critical agencies of government are in Abuja, makes it easy for inter agencies relationship, and visibility, as NIWA cannot afford to hide in Lokoja and expect to be reached easily by its publics and the oversighting ministry” Dr Gani Balogun added.