This is a picture of part of The Niger between Aboh in Delta State and Ndoni in Rivers State. You could see young boys playing football on one of the several islands that now dot the river. The Niger has become so shallow that it is now difficult to make a beeline across it. Every boat ride will require you to keep meandering in order not to get stuck on shallow grounds.
In December of 2017, I was part of a campaign team to one riverine community in Ndokwa East LGA of Delta State. We travelled in a convoy of about eight speedboats. One of the boats capsized when it sailed across a shallow portion of The Niger. Obviously, the sailor was unfamiliar with the terrain. Luckily, no life was lost because the area was shallow.
The shallowness of The Niger is partly responsible for the heavy flooding experienced in many coastal communities. Every other week, portions of land slide into it. Several trees and houses located on the banks have also been washed off into the river. With the massive floods which have become annual occurrences, so much is lost into The Niger every year.
One major step needed to be taken to stop this is the dredging of The Niger which is long overdue. The Yar’Adua government had plans to do so but as is characteristic of our governments here, the plans were not carried through and have remained abandoned till date.
Thorough dredging of the river will provide enough depth to accommodate the enormous volume of water that comes with the floods. The dredged sand will be used to sand fill the coastal communities and to recover parts of lost land. The sand could also be used to carry out embarkment of the banks to withstand the erosive effects of the ever flowing river water.
This is an appeal to government to quickly come to the aid of coastal dwellers whose lives, farmlands and properties come under threat every year. Dredging The Niger is not just long overdue, it is not a matter that should be debated.