Senate probes N40bn abandoned Baro Port project

Edwin Akwueh, Abuja

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The Nigerian Senate has mandated its Committees on Marine Transport, Works and Public Procurement to investigate the National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA) in respect of the abandoned Baro Port project, and make adequate recommendations to facilitate the early completion.

It also urged the Nigerian government to make funds available to contractors handling Baro River Port project for final completion, and transfer the roads project to Presidential Infrastructure Development Fund, (PIDF) for better funding and execution.

Similarly, Senate advised the government to facilitate the rehabilitation of Narrow Gauge Railway in Baro to ensure rapid socio-economic growth while there should be continuous dredging and maintenance by NIWA of the Rivers Niger and Benue to ensure its navigability.

These resolutions were sequel to a motion, “Urgent need to complete all the necessary components of Baro River Port project of the Lower River Niger,” sponsored by Senator Muhammad Bima and 22 other lawmakers during Tuesday’s plenary.

Presenting the motion, Senator Bima said that over N40 billion has so far been expended on the various components of the Baro Port without achieving any significant progress towards utilisation of the port.

He wondered why such a laudable project with all its potential benefits would be neglected.

Movement of goods
According to him, government awarded the contract for the dredging of the Lower River Niger, construction of the Baro Port, installation of cargo handling equipment and connecting access roads to ensure movement of goods and services to the Northern parts of the country in addition to the general improvement of socio-economic activities of the region.

“Baro Port project is expected to create 3,000 direct jobs and many more indirect jobs as well as improving our roads network by keeping heavy duty trailers and trucks off roads thereby expanding the life span of the roads,” he stated.

The lawmaker noted that the capital dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri to Baro had been completed while the Baro Port and its cargo handling equipment have also been completed and commissioned on January 19 by President Muhammadu Buhari.

Senator Bima further stated that the access roads which would facilitate movement of goods from Baro to the Northern parts was awarded in 2015 and 2018 for Lambata-Bida and Agaie-Katcha-Baro respectively. He lamented that the two major access roads, Lambata-Agaie and Agaie-Katcha-Baro respectively have only achieved about 20% and 2% progress.

He added that funding of the access roads had been grossly inadequate as N670 million and N4.5 billion so far been released for the project out of the contract sum of N17 billion and N33 billion respectively.

 

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere