The National Inland Waterways Authority says it has engaged consultants that will concession the Lokoja, Baro and Uguta River ports.
The Managing Director of the authority, Hajiya Inna Ciroma, told newsmen in Lokoja yesterday that the plan was part of efforts to boost water transportation.
Ciroma said that while work had been completed on Onitsha port, contractors handling Lokoja, Uguta and Baro river ports had been instructed to complete theirs by 2014.
She said that the concession of the ports to private operators would enable Nigerians derive maximum benefits from the dredging of lower part of River Niger.
She said that the authority would soon meet with stakeholders on how to make the waterway viable.
She said that the first leg of the meeting would take place in Onitsha, Anambra.
Ciroma said that haulage companies, exporters, importers, manufacturing and members of the organised private sector would attend the meeting.
She dismissed speculations that the Lokoja River Port had been abandoned and assured that work was in progress at the Idah Jetty in Benue.
On security of the nation’s inland waterways, she said that the organisation had started installing security apparatus along the water channels.
Ciroma said that the first phase of the project from Baro in Niger to Lokoja in Kogi had just been completed.
She said that 12 gunboats procured by the authority in 2012 had been deployed to sensitive waterways to check the insecurity.
According to her, the federal government will soon dredge River Benue in addition to constructing a port in Makurdi. (NAN)