Umar made the statement at the inauguration of the boards of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigerian Institute of Transport Technology, NITT.
The NITT board, chaired by Mr Olusola Akanmode, has 11 members, while NIWA has 18 members with Alhaji Bashir Dalhatu as Chairman.
According to him, the construction of river ports at Onitsha (Anambra), Oguta (Imo), Baro and Jamata (Kogi) are at various stages of completion.
He said the Federal Government had completed the dredging of the Lower River Niger from Warri in Delta to Baro, a distance of 572km, to facilitate all year navigation through the channel.
The minister said that the channel ran through major towns, such as Warri, Onitsha, Agenebode in Edo, Idah, Jamata and Baro.
Umar said with the dredging of the river, goods would be transported over long distances at relatively low rate along the channels.
He said that arrangements had reached advanced stage for the concession of the port, which was opened in 2012.
The minister said President Goodluck Jonathan had constituted a presidential committee to work out a robust strategy on a national dredging programme.
Umar said the programme would involve NIVA, Nigerian Army Corp of Engineers and the private sector.
The minister advised the members of the new boards to be guided by the laws establishing their parastatal agencies in the course of their tenure.
“You are equally expected to work in close collaboration with the Ministry of Transport and the management of your agencies to achieve their objectives,” he said.
Responding on behalf of members of the boards, Dalhatu expressed appreciation to the president for the confidence reposed in them and promised that they would not disappoint in their assignment.
He, however, called for the cooperation of stakeholders in the maritime sector to make their assignment successful.