N-21-029

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OBSERVATIONS TO THE INAUGURAL
VOYAGE ON THE NIGER RIVER 1972-73

The purpose of this voyage was :

  • I) to demonstrate the feasibility of seasonal commercial navigation on the Niger River , on a continuous basis .
  • II) to determine the improvements to be the equipement so as to achieva maximum efficiency and rentability .

There cannot be any doubt in anyone’s mind , familiar with this project , that both goals were met , i.e. Commercial Navigation can be carried out successfully and permanently , and therefore , bring to the countries bordering the Niger River substantial economy for the importation and exportation of their goods .

Niger Republic is the leading country in the development of river navigation but Nigeria and eventually Mail will be the countries who would benefit the most by the effort of Niger .

Someone has remarked that to have taken 59 days to sail from Warri to Port Harcourt and then to Gaya is by itself a failure .

On the contrary , it is felt that it has only shown that we made a good trip . One should not forget that the purpose of the first trip was :

  • I) to train fully a crew that would serve as a nucleurs for further expansion of the fleet .
  • II) to assess the performance of the equipment .

Therefore , without having experienced every possible difficulty and having every imaginable event , one could never known for sure the values of the equipment nor the ability of the crew . We know now the equipment is adelquate to the job that it was meant to the job that it was meant to do and that the crew is able to handile itself satisfactority though any sitution . The proof , that they have received the training , is their permonance on the return trip from Gaya to Warri , and the record of their operation since then on the lower Niger .

The few buoys that we placed strategically on the way , helped tremendously the performance of the return trip .

We were informed in Lagos by two different sources , that I.W.D. has ordered from Holland a sufficient number of buoys , and another buoy vessel to enable to mark and patrol the river adequately and continuously .

Another bit of gossip from Lagos is that Mr. George , director of I.W.D. has beeb absent from his office since mid-December . No one on his staff knows if he has been remplaced , if he is on leave , or if he is sick . One could expect from the number of reports of non cooperation on this gentleman that he may have been sent on an extended vacation .

Equipment

The barges , except for some ameliorations to the puming system , will remain as they are , their conception being correct .

The present tug conception answers the need of the upper river for the

bief it was meant for . However , the second tug should be designed to operate both in the lower Niger and the coastal route which would only bring a substantial economy in travelling time from Port Harcourt to the Nun River but will also bring additional revenue to the Niger Republic during the off season period by being able to answer an urgent request for coastal shipping from severian compagnies .

Nigeria
The official of the Nigerian Goverment and of I.W.D. is in favour of the development of river navigation . However , one still could find some Nigerians who are against this project for obcure reasons just as one could find some people in Canada at C.I.D.A. who have atrong reserves about the extention of the project .

At different levels , Nigeria has shown its interest in the following ways : -

  • I) by a letter signed by General Gowan addressed to President Diori Hamani in which the General promised all the aid Niger may need in its endeavours .
  • II) the positive aids of N.E.P ;A; and Kainji Dam Authorities before and durling our inaugural voyage .
  • III) the creation of a river transport compagny (C.W.T.C.) financed and supported by the nine river states . The opening of two private compagnies (M.T.C.) and (Joseph yambode). Two of the three compagnies are shopping in Canada through Camat International for tugs and barges .
  • IV) the ail and information received by individual amployees of I.W.D. who
  • V) (cont’d)
    acted around and above the nead of Mr .George . These people knew that they count upon of the Permanent Secretary the Ministrry of Transport .
  • V) the purchase in Holland of the patrol vessel and of the buoys .
  • VI) the signature signing of an agreseement for the formation of consortium between Niger and Nigeria river transport compagnies .

United States of America

The Americans , based on their experience of river navigation within their own country , know that river transport is the cheapest means of transportation available and very suitable for a large variety of commodities .

U.S.A.I.D. has accepted to raise the bridge at Gaya to build harbours and the river will serve more than policy and thus justify this loan .

Dahomey
Everyone is much concerned about the poor Dahomiens to the detriment of Niger . No one is more concerned in preserving the Dahomey route than Niger . Niger wants and needs an additional route to the sea as well as the existing

Dahomey (cont’d)
one . As it declared by Monsieur le Ministre Bembello at the annual meeting of the River Commission in Cotonou , April 71. The Minister’s speech is a matter of record .

Rentability
After one has studied the profits and statement for the first voyage , one is assured of the rentability of this project , even after having taken more than 3 months for the first round trip and for the waiting period before the next voyage . Of course , the depreciation and the reimbusement of the loan were not included .

Nationally , savings in transportation will bring a great impact on the Niger economy as a whole . As an example , the saving of cost transportation of gas-oil products is tremendous . By road it costs $64 per ton. we carried it to Gaya for $16 per ton . This economy on gas -oil will influence in the future , once thate the 12 barges will available , the cost of : -

  • I) road transportation
  • II) road building
  • III) road repairing
  • IV) water puming
  • V) production of electricity

Conclusion
Any delay to proceed with the completion of theeeee project coul kill it .It is most difficult to operate only one set of barges . If for reason , such

Conclusion (cont’d)

as an accident , which will result into a loss of revenue and profit , and cause heavy financial loss , the shipping company may find itself obliged to raise its rate of transportation to make up for the deficit . Gradually the large difference in cost of transportation with roads will disappear .

Another reason will be that the economic impact expected for the country would not be felt due to the small volum that it will carry .

There are secondary effects that may be felt if the project is delayed such as : -

  • - U.S.A.I.D. may pull out of the entente to the to raise the bridge and to build the harbours since for one set of barges such an expense would not be justified . For future years , it may not suit them to go ahead with these projects .
  • - Nigeria would not as U.S.A.I.D. , find it economically possible to buoy and mark the river for just one set of barges .
  • - Loss of interest of the trained personnel will force them to look for the work.

No doubt , if Canada delays further this project , will die due mainly to the loss of the existing enthusiasm from all persons concerned . Also , the shipping companies of Nigeria interested in purchasing equipment from Canada may wait to find the raison for the delay and eventually lose all interest .

We strongly recommend to proceed without delay with the second phase of the project .

F. Cordeau
Conseiller du Président
de la République

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