The NIWA MD fielding questions from the media at the event.
Story by Dili Utomi.
The cosy Fantasia Ballroom hall of the Eko Hotels in Victoria island was the venue of the media chat organised by the management of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) late afternoon on Friday. The occasion witnessed the Managing Director of the Authority, Mr. George Moghalu who came with some staff members of the establishment including the Lagos Area manager of NIWA, Engineer Sarat Braimah in attendance. The event was anchored by the very much experienced journalist, Frank Meke and Jibril Darda’u of the public relations department of NIWA.
The kernel of the matter was for the Authorities at NIWA and the Maritime Journalists to feel each other’s pulses and chat a more robust relationship.
The NIWA Managing Director addressed the Journalists and said that the need for interface between NIWA and the media to create a more cordial relationship that will allow for progressive atmosphere informed the decision to call for the parley. He recalled that at his resumption of office in 2019 that he called on the media to help market the Authority and that he is grateful for the cooperation he has far enjoyed. He pleaded that the media should always stand as an objective observer as it concerns NIWA and revert to them whenever there is any issue that has a grey area for clarification and that the media should give honest and objective advice, always. Mr. Moghalu hopes that by the end of his tenure, that the confidence reposed in him would have been justified.
A group Photograph with some of the pressmen at the event.
Now, knowing that it has not been all sweet stories about NIWA, a lot of questions were fired by some of the over sixty Journalists present at the occassion. The questions ranged from the issue of operation, to security, budget, accidents, advertisement and many more.
Yours truly third from left with colleagues.
Since the first question bothered on the small matter of budget and the amount of advertisement used by NIWA, Mr. Moghalu started his response by noting that the placement of advertisement in the various media platforms is tied to the budget and readership, but also promised to continue to help the corporate affairs department in engendering a more robust relationship with the public as much as possible.
A cross section of Journalists at the event.
On the question about whether the amount spent on dredging is commensurate with the usage of the various water channels being dredged, the NIWA MD responded that for the capital dredging to last, there must be a continuous maintenance dredging and that there is an in-house dredging mechanism arrangement and again that the inland waterways serve so many different purposes.
The NIWA MD in a tete-a-tete with the Lagos area manager of the Authority, Eng. Sarat Braimah.
On security and safety, Mr. Moghalu informed that there are partnership arrangements with the Nigerian Navy, Police and the Army to provide security services in addition to the available NIWA police force. He said that many life jackets have been provided to many area offices since he became the MD and noted that boats are now being electrically registered as some jetties that do not meet the standard requirements have also been shut down. He added that all the patrol boats bought before he came in as the MD are still very much in use and that they are setting higher standards in order to reduce human error and curb the level of unfortunate occurrences. It will be noted that in recent times, a lot of cases of accidents with the attendant losses in materials and lives have been indicated and these have prompted various questions from the public.
A very important aspect of the NIWA operation which is river charting was examined by the Journalists and Mr. Moghalu responding that it still goes on and that there is a cooperation agreement with the hydrographic department of the Nigerian Navy for the local production of these charts. He also answered questions on the use of weed harvesters bought before he became the MD, and said that they are still in use.
The NIWA boss also informed the media personalities that they are considering the concessioning of some river Ports for more efficient operation and that they intend to use radio and other affordable platforms to educate the rural populace about the need to obey all protocols and procedures in boat operation in order to shore up the level of safety and reduce the level of accidents to the barest minimum.
The MD also answered questions on the legal battle between NIWA and LASWA as he said that where a water body begins and stops in a state, that that state has authority over the water body, but that when the water body goes across states that that becomes the jurisdiction of NIWA, but that the bottom line is the safety of passengers and the economic development of the nation, he declined to speak on the case at the level of the Supreme Court as he noted that it be will be sub judice to speak on the matter. He stated that the coming of Covid-19 is still affecting travels at all levels including water transportation, but hopes that everything returns to normal and the expected growths acheived.
The MD says that he and his staff are still very much committed to achieving all his visions for NIWA and noted that all of people’s positions are transient and then reiterated his hope that he would have been able to justify the confidence reposed in him by the end of his tenure as the NIWA MD.
The men at the anchor promised that there will be more interactions like this one with the press over the course of time and pleaded for the support of the media to make their job easier in order that NIWA may better serve the public.
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