The Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, disclosed this to newsmen at a media parley in Lagos on Friday.
Moghalu said his agency has held discussions with the barge operators for a suitable insurance cover for all goods on board barges.
He explained that this was simply to protect investments of importers who use waterways to transport their goods to their final destination.
Moghalu described movement of goods by barges as a prime project in order to decongest the nation’s ports and also reduce pressure on the roads.
According to him, the roads were not designed to carry as much as they do currently, adding, “if so, there is no way our infrastructure will last”.
“So whatever we can do to reduce such pressure, we do it… in civilized societies, bulk cargoes go on waterways”, he said.
The NIWA MD said that having concessioned Onitsha port, others will follow with time, adding that government will use the same template used in Onitsha concession as a guide to Baro, Lokoja, Oguta and any other river port.
The former Minister of State for Transportation, Senator Gbemisola Saraki, had said that Onitsha River Port has a lot of economic benefits to the country.
Saraki said the port will generate about N23bn to the federal government in 30 years as part of the concession agreement.
The Minister who disclosed this during the concession signing ceremony in Abuja said the port will create a lot of wealth and jobs.
She described the seaport as one of catalyst for other river ports.
Saraki also said the river port is targeted at decongesting other seaports and therefore usher in growth.
She added that the river port will be to address the issue of traffic on the roads, stating, “And so it is a very good thing and we are exceptionally proud that at long last we have achieved this.”
The Minister disclosed that other river ports, including Baro, Lokoja and Oguta will follow in the stage of concessioning like Onitsha.
According to her, the river ports were in different stages of completion.
She said “the most important thing is that we already have interest from potential investors who want to actually take over this.”
Moghalu said the Onitsha river port will reduce the traffic of cargoes going to the South East by road.
Moghalu expressed optimism that the concession will open up opportunities for other ports to be given necessary considerations.