By Oko Ebuka
In a bid to keep the Nigerian waterways safe from robbers, the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, Lagos Area office, recently, destroyed shanties on Lagos channels around Iddo waterfront to secure the area for navigation.
The exercise followed petitions and reports of criminal activities and presence of suspected pirates who hide in the shanties where they plan and launch attacks against legal occupants of waterfront facilities as well as take down boats and vessels transporting goods across the channel.
Disclosing this to the newsmen, NIWA’s Area Manager in charge of Lagos State, Engineer Sarat Lara Braimah, who led the clearing operation, said that all waterfronts in the state where the federal regulatory agency finds such habitations shall be pulled down.
She also warned that the federal government, through the agency, would no longer tolerate the situation where miscreants pretending to be fishermen, convert waterfront ambiance to slaughter houses and operational grounds to attack innocent users of waterways.
She stated: “We want to change the narrative of engagements on our waterways and the era when people blame NIWA for not being proactive enough is over.
“Until people respect constituted authority on right of way on Lagos waters, we shall not let them sleep.
“Also on NIWA radar is the Ijora waterfront to which adequate notice and certain human intervention has been carried out to forestall breakdown of law and order, and also to avoid unnecessary accusations against government good gestures in husbanding waterfront property across the state.
“ I think we should be seen to discharge our mandate without fear or favour and in weeks to come, we would create a clear picture of what is where and who has our mandate on such critical areas.”
On the emerging presence of water hyacinth which is making navigation almost impossible in Ikorodu Area of the state, Braimah hinted that a harvester machine and a NIWA team have been deployed to clear the menace and provide access to boat operators and movement of vessels to the Ikorodu Inland Port
She further explained: “I think we can address this issue of water hyacinth technologically and as soon as the rains would allow us some time to do a good work, we are surely going to get around it one way or another”.