Even though they have been banned from operating from the highbrow Marina coastline, operators of barges have continued to load and freight containers to Lagos ports, in defiance of the order that was given about two weeks ago by the duo of Governor Babajide Sanwo Olu of Lagos state and the Minister of Transportation; Mr Rotimi Amaechi.
Recall that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, and the Minister for Transportation, Rotimi Amaechi, both gave the stop-work order while on an unscheduled visit to inspect activities around the Marina coastline.
During the inspection, the two senior government officials described barge operations within the Marina axis as constituting health and security hazards in the area, in addition to the devastation of the coastline.
The Minister consequently directed the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to revoke approvals for barge operators in the axis.
However, checks by Shipping Position Daily revealed that the barge operators have defiled the order and have continued operations.
Our correspondent who visited the Marina waterfront many times after the order was given, discovered that barge operators are still working, regardless of the order by both the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government.
However, in an exclusive chat with our correspondent, the Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. Kingsley Moghalu stated that a tripartite committee had been set up to reappraise the activities of barge operators.
He also denied knowledge of the fact that the barge operators are still operating from the Marina water front.
He told our correspondent that, any barge operator who desires to get its renewal would first have to meet with the new committee consisting of NPA, NIWA and the Lagos State government.
He also alleged that many of the barges operating along the Marina coastline are not sea-worthy and are accidents waiting to happen and as such the government had to take bold step towards that.
Denying the activities of barge operators, the NIWA boss said: “it’s not true, most of the agencies in the transport ministry, held a meeting and agreed that all the operations on the Marina axis should be suspended, NPA was directed to withdraw the license issued to all barge operators for now; that anybody who wants to renew their barge has to meet with a committee of Lagos state, NPA, NIWA and sit down to determine the scope of operation, they would agree on what is expected to be done while promising to confirm the authenticity of their operations after the ban.
“In a civilized society, you cannot run down your Marina, to build a world class city; there are ways to develop them to become attractive, some of us travel overseas to check out how things are being done to enable us replicate it here, so we cannot say we will ban operations; it has to be done according to rules and in line with civilized practices”, he said.
“There are some barges that are not sea-worthy; they are accident waiting to happen, there is nothing you can do about them that will stop them from operations and that is what they are doing, they are recertifying vessels that are operating on our waterways, so that we can be sure they are sea worthy” he said.