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As the Nigerian Navy carries on the dredging of Baga axis of the Lake Chad, Governor Kashim Shettima on Wednesday visited the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas to discuss ways the Borno State Government will quickly rehabilitate the bad Monguno-Kroskawwa-Baga to make it possible for the Navy to be able to move heavy duty dredging and other equipment to site.
Baga, a commercial area in Kukawa local government area of Northern Borno State, is famous for large scale commercial fishing, taking advantage of waters from the receding Lake Chad. Fishing activities from Baga accounts for significant portions of dry fish in Nigerian markets and some neighboring African countries.
The Lake Chad on which Baga communities depend, also provide water for fishing and irrigation farming to more than 68 million persons across Nigeria, Chad, Cameroon and Niger Republic who live in surrounding communities regarded as the Chad Basin. But global resource information from the United Nations Environment Programme shows the Lake has ‘shrank by as much as 95% from about 1963 to 1998, even though 2007 satellite images show some gains of water’.
President Muhammadu Buhari had directed the Navy to begin dredging some Nigerian portions of the Lake. Although it is not yet clear to what extent the Nigerian Navy is to dredge the water from the Baga axis, the move is expected to improve water flow that should benefit thousands of Borno residents of Baga who mostly engage in large scale commercial fishing distributed across Nigeria and other parts of Africa.
Governor Shettima requested the Naval Chief to allocate soldiers that will secure construction workers and machinery for the Borno Government to rehabilitate the poor road from Monguno to Baga through Kroskawwa to make deployments of Naval dredging equipment possible.
Shettima said the State has acquired different brands of construction equipment which it’s Engineers use for ongoing construction of roads and bridges through direct labour to cut cost.
“Borno State is now highly equipped with construction equipment, we have virtually every needed equipment for construction of roads and bridges and we also have the skilled manpower.
I am aware of the Navy’s dredging of Baga portion of the Lake Chad but I know that some of your equipment get stuck on the road to site, the road needs to be quickly rehabilated. The state is willing to quickly fix the road but we need the Navy to provide the necessary security for our construction workers that will be camped in Monguno.
I am here with the Commissioner for Works and Transport who coordinate all road construction. If we are to award contract, because of the terrain, a lot of contractors might be reluctant to go. But once we have the dedicated security for our Engineers we can dedicate a number of equipment and 30-40 trucks to start conveying laterite, crush stones and other components from Damaturu in a convoy down to Baga almost on daily basis. We will start the surface works.
We can tidy up the road especially between Cross Kaiwa to Baga. There are a lot of potholes” Shettima said.
In his response, the Chief of Naval Staff, Vice Admiral Ibok-Ete Ekwe Ibas Said, “Mr. President directed that we move in. There is progress except for the challenges but if we can have that (road repairs), I am sure it will hasten the developmental efforts”.
The Naval Chief expressed satisfaction with Governor Shettima’s developmental passion and promised to discuss the Governor’s request with relevant authorities with a view to fixing the road to fast track the dredging project.