The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has said boat operators in Lagos are taking advantage of the rift between it and the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to carry out illegal operations at night, a practice that has led to boat mishaps within the Lagos waterways.
Speaking to Shipping Position Daily on the recent boat mishaps, the General Manager LASWA, Mr Damilola Emmanuel blamed the rift between the two agencies on the recent boat mishaps.
He however disclosed that the two agencies have decided to work together to bring perpetrators of the marine accidents to book.
He further said both NIWA and LASWA have come up with a plan with the Marine Police to impound any boat and arrest operators flouting the laid down rules for operations.
He added that the authorities already had a meeting with the leadership of Association of Tourists Boat Operators and Water Transport of Nigeria (ATBOWTON) on the need to adhere to the regulations.
“Many of the boat operators always go to jetties that they know that we (LASWA and NIWA) are not there and then sometimes it’s always the passengers’ fault.
“We had a meeting with ATBOWTON, NIWA too had a meeting with them and we have told them, going forward there is no flouting of the laws. LASWA is no longer relaxing on our responsibility anymore”, he assured.
“The major problem that makes these (accidents) last is because of this ongoing rift with NIWA, for example if we impound a boat today, they will tell you that don’t have any right to arrest, that NIWA says they are the ones that has the jurisdiction of the Lagos waterways, so this prohibited us a bit and for a very long time, to do any kind of enforcement in terms of arresting people and that was why we relaxed on that, and the operators used it to their advantage”.
Speaking also to Shipping Position Daily, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. Sarat Braimah informed our correspondent that the two agencies have deployed patrol teams to arrest operators caught flouting the laid- down rules.
“We have already deployed patrol teams to arrest any operators flouting the laid-down rules, we have given them new patrol boats and any moment from now, they will be on the water ways”, she said.
However, in a chat with our correspondent, the Chief Superintendent of Police NIWA unit Lagos, CSP Usman Tahir disclosed that the Marine Police could not arrest any of the boat operators operating at night, because there were no patrol boats, he however confirmed that the police will soon start patrolling as soon as the patrol boats are fixed.
“I won’t lie to you, we have problem with our patrol boat and that is why we could not patrol since, but they have repaired it now and we will start patrolling again and get everyone who refused to abide by the law arrested”, he stated.
Efforts to get reaction of the leadership of (ATBOWATON) as to why some of its members still engage in night operations was abortive.
However, in a memo cited by our reporter, the President of ATBOWTON stated that there is embargo on night navigation on Lagos waters
"This is to inform all the zonal chairman of (ATBOWATON) in Lagos state that starting from now, Lagos state government has stopped night sailing. If any boat is apprehended by Police, that is the end of it; please with immediate effect; pass this message across to your member's", the memo said.