By Olasunkanmi Akoni, Godwin Oritse and Monsur Olowoopejo
LAGOS State Government has said that it requires about N25billion to effectively remove over 200 abandoned ship wrecks and vessels along the state coastline and waterways.
Commissioner for Waterfront Infrastructure Development, Prince Adesegun Oniru disclosed this at the ministerial press briefing on activities of his ministry in the last one year, as well as marking the seventh anniversary in office of Governor Babatunde Fashola’s administration.
Oniru, lamented that wrecked ships, pose serious danger to navigation on the water ways as well as the health of residents, because of the toxic nature resulting from the decay of the wreckage.
According to him: “There are over 200 shipwrecks and abandoned vessels currently lying on the state’s coastline including lagoons,” adding that the vessels were responsible for some of the environmental issue, especially degradation of the coastlines.
He said: “There are also security concerns as these wrecks can serve as hideout for hoodlums to carry out their nefarious activities.
The commissioner stressed: “The removal of these shipwrecks and abandoned vessels lying on our coastline and waterways is not a small task and it will cost nothing less than N25billion to effectively remove the wrecks from the state’s coastline.”
He said it was not the responsibility of the state government to cough out the required amount, lamenting that efforts to get the federal government to aid the protection of coastlines had yielded little or no result.
Oniru, however revealed that government is currently working on a law aimed at finding and prosecuting owners of abandoned vessel on its coastline.
He explained: “Our ministry is working with the Ministry of Justice to put legislation together. You cannot anchor a vessel out in the Atlantic and whenever there is a strong wind or surge and the anchor snaps and it’s at the mercy of the Atlantic, then they leave it there and disappear. When the legislation is put in place, this would be a thing of the past.
“Once the legislation is ready, it would be brought to the executive and once it is passed the bill will be passed to the House of Assembly to look at it and pass into law,” Oniru added.
Meanwhile, the state government has shut down and is currently prosecuting nine illegal sand dredging companies, just as 33 persons have also been arrested for violating the land dredging law in the state.
Oniru explained that the state in 2007 restructured sand dredging activities and outlawed indiscriminate dredging, saying; “and since then, anyone who wants to dredge must seek approval from the state government before dredging.”
He added “Part of the restructure was that the state government spelt out three categories to specify which aspect one intends to invest. And since then, we have issued about 100 permits for the three categories.”
Also speaking, Managing Director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Yinka Marinho, said aside shipwrecks, logs could also trigger boat mishaps.