Niger - The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said on Saturday said that the inland port at Barau in Niger, had reached 80 per cent completion and would be ready by March 2013.
The Managing Director of the authority, Alhaji Ahmed Yar'Adua, announced this when the Ministers of information and National Planning, Mr Labaran Maku and Alhaji Shamsudeen Usman respectively, visited the facility on the Good Governance Tour.
"We have reached 80 per cent completion and we are doing everything to see how this port can be completed and put to use.
"This project would have been completed by December 2012 but due to the recent flooding, we have shifted it, so I assure you that it will be completed by December 2013.''
According to him, the Federal Government awarded the contract in December 2009 but work began at the site in the first quarter of 2010.
The managing director said the project was expected to be completed in 20 months but it faced some challenges such as the lack of access road, in security and community interference, among others.
"The flooding washed away the only access road leading to the port, making it difficult for heavy construction equipment to get to the construction site by road.''
He said the contract was awarded at N6.6 billion while payments to date stood at N4.9 billion.
Yar'Adua added that aside the sand filling of the harbour which was almost completed, other major construction work still pending included administrative buildings, security post, generator house and water treatment plant.
Responding, Maku said that instability of previous administrations, had robbed Nigerians of many dividends of democracy.
"If we had embarked on this project in 1954, we would have been doing another project now, not this one anymore.
"So because of governments not being stable, projects such as the inland water ports were not done, ’’ he said.
He said that the Federal Executive Council had awarded contracts to purchase two passenger barges for the channel to ensure that it did not lie fallow after its completion.
"With the recent flooding, you could see that if we had alternative route, we all needed not to go by road.''
The minister assured Nigerians, particularly citizens of Niger, that the job would be completed.
Maku said that on completion, it would ease pressure on the roads and boost economic activities in the state and the country.