The Dredgers Association of Nigeria yesterday urged the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to stop illegal dredging of sand in waterways across the country.
Executive Secretary of the association, Richard Ntang, made the appeal in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) in Lagos.
Ntang said the “reckless” sand excavation had made the depth of water ways irregular and dangerous for transportation and aquatic activities.
He said NIWA and the Federal Ministry of Solid Minerals should effectively tackle the problem, especially in Lagos State.
“Unlicensed operators have caused havoc to the even depth of nation’s waterways.
“Unsafe dredging activities pose threat to the safety of lives and the environment because it can cause a canoe or boat to capsize at will.”
He stressed that sand dredging business had become more challenging as most operators find it difficult to pay their bank loans due to proliferation of unlicensed dredgers.
According to Ntang, sand dredging is capital intensive as the equipment required are costly and spare parts have to be imported.
“Wages have increased and the cost of diesel is still high. Most of us are working with bank loans which are becoming difficult to service due to recent development.
“Sand now sells for N1,500 per cubic metre from the N2,300 it sold some years ago, but the unlicensed dredgers sell below N1,500 per cubic metre of sand.
“This has made breaking even difficult,” he said.
When contacted, Mr Muazu Sambo, Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, assured that the agency would tackle the issue appropriately.
“We will not support illegality, we will work in conjunction with other regulatory agencies to control the activities of the operators.
“The authority will ensure the issues are tackled within the confines of the law,” Sambo said.
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