The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has ordered sand dredgers in the Addo/Badore neighbourhood of Lagos State to wind up their operations within 14 days.
The General Manager Lagos Zone of NIWA, Mr. Mu’Azu Sambo, gave the order on Thursday in Lagos at a meeting with representatives of the Addo/Badore Residents and Estates Associations, the Tipper Drivers Association and the Sand Dredgers Association.
General Manager issued the order, following the residents’ complaints about their untold hardships due to the sand dredging activities.
Sambo warned that there was no going back on the decision on the activities of the sand dredgers in the area.
He said that residents of the area had lodged several complaints on the activities of the sand dredgers, while NIWA had critically examined the situation in a practical way.
Sambo stressed that the 14-day ultimatum was given to enable the sand dredgers to remove their equipment and sell the sand they had already excavated for sale.
“NIWA will not spare violators of the directive; we will sanction anyone who continues any dredging activity after the expiration of the ultimatum.
“The residents of Addo/Badore area have written petitions, informing us of the hardship they face daily as a result of the sand dredging taking place there.
“I am, however, granting you some palliatives, which include the 14-day ultimatum to enable you close down your operations in the area and move your operational equipment away.
“You can also use the period to sell what you have on ground. However, there shall be no fresh sand dredging operations.
“We will deal with this legally and our officers are around to ensure total compliance.
“We will do that politely but we will not hesitate to come down heavily on violators.
“We shall impound any tipper seen carrying sand out of the area after the expiration of the ultimatum; we will also arrest and prosecute its driver,” he said.
Sambo, however, advised the sand dredgers to search for suitable non-residential areas where they could restart their operations, pledging that they would get permits for operations in suitable areas after applications.
He said that at the end of the sand dredging operations in the Addo/Badore area, NIWA would carry out a post-dredging impact assessment of the area to ensure the safety of the residents.
Sambo said even though sand mining licences were issued by the Ministry of Mines and Steel Development, the mandate of NIWA covered areas such as access to inland waters.
Narrating the plight of the residents, Mrs Funke Jegede the Chairman of the Addo/Badore Residents and Estates Association, told the gathering that the residents of the neighbourhood had been having harrowing experience with traffic congestion on the roads due to the sand dredgers’ activities.
She said that the roads leading to the area had become impassable as the dredgers had destroyed the entire area with trucks, transporting wet sand, dripping water or sand and creating craters on the road.
“The trucks, not only carry wet sand dripping water and sand all over the roads, they also make U-turns right over the road median; without bothering to get to the roundabout.
“We have made several efforts to address the issue but to no avail.
“Even the state government has vowed never to come and fix the roads again as long as the dredging activities continue in the area.
“I urge the sand dredgers to relocate to places outside the residential areas so as to prevent the residents from facing unwarranted hardship,’’ Jegede said.
Mr Basil Dominic, a spokesman for the Sand Dredgers Association, conceded that the activities of the sand dredgers had caused some hardships for the residents.
He noted that the roads of the area had become impassable, even as efforts were continuously made to fix them.
He said that although attempts were made at different times to repair portions of the roads, the transportation of wet sands and its filthy consequences on the area could be described as “negligence on our part”.
Mr Akeem Taoheed, the Zonal Chairman of the Tipper Drivers Association, blamed some of the sand dredgers for selling wet sand, which often brought dirt to the surroundings when transported by tippers.
“We have been fighting against the selling and haulage of wet sand.
“When we saw how bad the roads have become, we started making efforts to maintain the roads; we also kept addressing the issue of the recklessness of some of our members,” he added.