NIWA accuses LASWA of disobeying court order

Despite the court ruling which favored the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) as the only lawful agencies with authority over operations of boats, ferries and control of water transportation on inland waterways and jetties in Nigeria, the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has continued to assert control and impose charges on the waterways operators.

The Federal High Court in Lagos had on 28th March 2014 restrained LASWA and the Lagos State Commissioner Ministry of Water Front Infrastructural Development, who were the 1st and 2nd defendants in the suit, from seeking to control of these operations.

Other defendants in the suit were the Attorney General of Lagos State, Governor of Lagos State, NIWA, NIMASA, Minister of Mines and Steel Development, Minister of Transport and Attorney General of the Federation.

The presiding judge, Justice J. T. Tsoho, had also restrained the 1st and 2nd defendants from further collecting and imposing charges on the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria and Dredgers Association of Nigeria, who were the plaintiffs in the suit, in respect of their operations of boats, ferry and water transportation on inland waterways and jetties in Nigeria.

Tsoho had declared the plaintiffs shall make payments, obtain and renew permit or licence from the proper and lawful agency of the government being NIWA and NIMASA, who were the 5th and 6th defendants in the suit.

It was also declared that demand for payments for the operations of the plaintiffs by both the 1st and 2nd defendants as well as the 5th and 6th defendants on the same and similar issue, to wit: operational licence, operational certificate etc, amounts to multiple charges and therefore unconstitutional and unlawful.

But LASWA has gone ahead to “impudently flout these court orders”, according to the NIWA Lagos Area Officer, Engineer M’uazu.

“I can mention two cases of the violation of this order that has been brought to our notice. The first one was on May 1st 2014, a boat operator at Majudun, Ikorodu reported to NIWA that his boat was seized by LASWA and taken to their office at Falomo. The boat was not released to the operator until he was forced to pay twenty thousand naira to LASWA. We have evidence of that payment with our police.

The second case is the violation of our right of way by LASWA again at Lekki Scheme One. At that location, one of our clients, Gani Tarzan who has a jetty there, operating under NIWA’s permit, LASWA went there to demolish his fence and carting away his fencing materials and then put their signboard that the land belongs to LASWA.

“The incident happened three days ago” Sambo told SHIPS & PORTS DAILY in his office on Thursday.

He said that LASWA’s “audacity is not only a violation of the Federal High Court ruling but also a violation of a case long decides at the Court of Appeal which gave jurisdiction to NIWA of land one hundred meters from the shores of all waters including Lagos state”.

He said NIWA will not hesitate to take advantage of the legal options which includes filing a case against LASWA and the Attorney-General of Lagos State for contempt of court.