A 7-day ultimatum has been issued to sand dredgers and boat operators in Lagos State to comply with all applicable laws regulating their operations within the State’s inland waterways.
Lagos State Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure, Mr Adebowale Akinsanya, who gave the directive warned that failure to comply would lead to appropriate sanctions.
The directive came against a recent judgment of the Court of Appeal which empowers the Lagos State House of Assembly to make laws in respect of the intra-inland waterways in Lagos State.
Mr Akinsanya, who spoke at a Press Conference to shed light on the court judgment, said government would continue to strike a balance between economic drive and the preservation of the ecosystem.
“Government would now enforce relevant laws to ensure balance between economic development and preservation that would permit the beneficial use of waterfronts, while preserving the diminution of open space areas or public access to the waterfront, shoreline erosion, impairment of scenic beauty or permanent adverse changes to ecological system, as well as the guidelines for sand dredging and auxiliary operations including evidence of Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) and Bathymetric/sand search reports before any project is allowed on the waterways,” he noted.
In the same vein, the Lagos Attorney-General and Commissioner for Justice, Mr Adeniji Kazeem said the State Government was very pleased with the judgment which he described as clear, unambiguous and a victory for resource control and fiscal federalism in Nigeria.
“There have been varied attempts by those who lost out to whittle down the effect of the appellate court judgment, however, the State Government would however be unbowed and fiercely protect the God-given resources within the State and never relent in championing the cause of true federalism in the country,” Mr Kazeem said.
According to the Commissioner for Justice, anyone or agency that is displeased with the position of the Appeal Court and subsequent actions of the State government should seek redress in court.
“Looking at the import of these laws which you can find in the Constitution is that the Nigerian government controls maritime and international navigation which is to clear the high seas for international carriers to be able to move freely; in so far as bodies of water within a State do not obstruct those international routes, those bodies of water within the exclusive preserve of the State are left to their control and that is what that Appeal Court judgment affirmed, it said clearly that the Lagos State House of Assembly has powers to legislate on its intra-inland waterways and the LASWA Law is very clear about its powers and authority to control boat operatio,” he reiterated.
He stressed that in this age of very lean resources, the judgment was a breath of fresh air for Internally Generated Revenue, IGR and it would also help the State Government to restore the environment and control the menace of flooding.
According to him, this will also fall in line with the promise of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to make Lagos work for all by recovering and harnessing the resources of the State for benefit of all.
“Until this judgment is set aside, it remains good law and will be fully enforced by the Lagos State government and my office and the relevant government agencies,” Mr Kazeem stated.
The Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA); Ms Abisola Kamson urged all stakeholders to take full advantage of the 7-day ultimatum to regularise their operations and activities.
Ms Kamson added that the reforms, aimed at achieving integrated and intermodal water transportation system would now be vigorously pursued in the State.