The brouhaha between the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Lagos State Government over control of inland waterways heightened yesterday as the former’s Lagos Area Office has taken a swipe at the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) describing its operations as illegal.
Area Manager, NIWA Lagos Area Office, Engineer Muazu Sambo, told journalists at the maiden interactive forum organized by his office for the area’s waterway operators that LASWA was established unlawfully to undermine the authority of NIWA.
“LASWA is an illegal creation. It is not recognised by the laws of this country because LASWA is a creation of the Lagos House of Assembly which purported to repeal the NIWA Act in order for it to be in existence. The question is, can a State House of Assembly repeal a Federal legislation? To that extent we do not have any relationship with LASWA,” he stated.
He said on no condition will NIWA harmonise its fees with LASWA’s because, according to him, “rightfully so because of what I would call double, even multiple, taxation.”
He said that if the goal of the Lagos State Government is to develop water transportation, it would not drag the functions of controlling the inland waterways with NIWA.
At the interactive forum organized to address the challenges facing the area’s waterways operators, the NIWA Lagos Area Office distributed copies of NIWA’s rejoinder to Lagos State Governor, Babatunde Fashola, claiming that it is ridiculous for the state to seek permit from NIWA to build Lekki bridge over the Lagoon, to set up a jetty in its own Lagoon or to develop municipal water transportation.
In the rejoinder NIWA states: “While we concede the right of the Governor to express his opinions as it relates to Inland Waterways in Lagos, we wish to draw the attention of His Excellency to the fact that where he is dissatisfied with the valid Federal law establishing the National Inland Waterways Authority especially as it concerns the Authority’s functions and regulatory control over Rivers, Creeks, lagoons and other bodies of internal waters of Nigeria, the only alternative is the court of law and not otherwise. The fact that the Governor chose to disrespect the enacted Act of National Assembly does not make it right.”
It further states: “The fact remains that NIWA, by its enabling Act, CAP47LFN has the mandate to develop inland waterways and the exclusive powers to control and regulate all activities including that of States on the Nigeria inland waterways, Lagos Lagoon inclusive (Sections 10, 11, 12 and 23 of the NIWA Act). This includes both private and private sectors.”
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