Amaechi says Jonathan’s govt failed to dredge the River Niger despite paying a contractor N34 billion for the job
The minister of transportation says the Buhari government is now spending N100m on the job
Amaechi also reveals that $186m has been approved by President Buhari for the fight against piracy and other criminalities on the waterways
Minister of Transportation Rotimi Amaechi has said that former President Goodluck Jonathan’s administration paid a contractor N34 billion for the dredging of the River Niger, who failed to get the job done, The Nation reports.
According to him, the Muhammadu Buhari administration is spending N100m on the job.
Amaechi made this claim when he spoke at the opening of a conference on Fast-tracking Port Reforms hosted by The Nation in conjunction with the Federal Ministry of Transportation and Epsilon Limited, on Thursday, May 4.
He said: “When the River Niger was first approved for dredging by the previous administration, it was approved for N47billion and N34billion was paid to the contractor. Dancers were called in and there was a party.
“We are not dredging the River Niger with billions of naira; we are dredging the River Niger with just N100m. When we flagged it off recently, did you see us dancing? Was there a party? I just went to see the governor and told him that the project will start today and will be finished in one month.
“The governor said he will accompany me, and I said ‘ok’. So, I asked the governor to flag it off since it’s located in his state.”
He continued: “People are wondering how on earth we are going to dredge the River Niger for N100m when the previous government awarded same contract for N47billion? But we are going to dredge the River Niger, using dredgers owned by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA).
“NIWA has dredgers, but the previous government preferred to give contractors money to dredge the river with private dredgers while NIWA’s dredgers were lying idle somewhere in Port Harcourt.
“The NIWA MD told me the agency has dredgers, but it’s been hired out to somebody in Port Harcourt. So, we had dredgers, but the previous administration hired them out to some persons in Port Harcourt while paying a contractor billions of naira to use privately owned dredgers at a very high cost.
“I told the NIWA MD that I will look for money to fuel their dredgers, and work has started. That is why we are dredging the River Niger with just N100m.”
Amaechi also said $186m had been approved by President Buhari for the fight against piracy and other criminalities on the waterways.
Part of the money, the Minister said, would be spent on three helicopters and three other aircraft, among others.
He said: “Mr. President has approved $186million to fight piracy in our waters. The funds will be used to buy three helicopters, three aircraft, 12 vessels stationed in the water. In the next three months, all of them would be deployed to fight piracy on our waters.
“We promised change. Change is not talked about; it is felt. That is why we asked that the people should give us time.”
Meanwhile, Amaechi has dismissed rumor that he is a corrupt official, insisting that he is honest and doesn’t even like money.