Lagos signs pact to end waterways dispute

By Luqmon Balogun, Lagos

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Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu (left) and Managing Director/ CEO, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora, signing an agreement for cooperation between the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and NIWA on Monday, July 29, 2019.

Lagos State has signed an agreement with the Nigerian government to end the rift over the control of waterways.

The lingering dispute which has lasted for more than 10 years ended on Monday with the signing of a pact, expected to open up the sector for sustainable development.

New agreement
With the new agreement, both parties will now have a joint responsibility to ensure safety, harmonise tariffs and monitor regulations on the waterways.

The Lagos State Governor, Mr Babajide Sanwo-Olu said that the treaty would guarantee a better working relationship between NIWA and Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA.

He received the officials of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) led by the Managing Director, Senenator Olorunnimbe Mamora in office on Monday.

Lagos State Governor, Mr. Babajide Sanwo-Olu, flanked by his Deputy, Dr. Obafemi Hamzat (left); Managing Director/CEO of NIWA, Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora (right) and her team during the signing of an agreement for cooperation between LASWA and NIWA in Lagos.

Investment
After signing the agreement, Governor Sanwo-Olu said; ”the development implied the unlocking of investment in water transportation, which is one of the cardinal projects of his administration.”

The Governor described the treaty as “right choice” to end the long-drawn-out rift, pointing out that the ceremony was a testimony to the benefits the citizens could gain when agencies of government agree to collaborate.

Easing business
“I congratulate these two agencies of government that have found it right to collaborate. This is one of the progresses we have made to promote ease of doing business and as regulators, we must always find a way to close our differences in order to convince investors and private sector.

“Transportation is one of the cardinal objectives of this administration. We have said we have plans to introduce a comprehensive intermodal transportation system, which will cover rail, roads and waterways. A critical component of this objective is what this agreement just enabled for us. It means we are prepared for investors and partners who have shown interest in partnership on waterway transportation to move our people from one part of the state to another.

”We are assuring investors that issues around regulations between these agencies of the state and Federal governments have eased out. Investors don’t have anything to fear again. The safety of people that will be using the ferry services for tourism and leisure is paramount. This is one of the things the agreement has addressed. We can monitor and ensure regulations are followed, since both agencies are now in agreement,” he said

Governor Sanwo-Olu said that the effort by his government to harness the State’s potential in water tourism had received a boost with the signing of the agreement, stressing that the treaty had removed impediments preventing the state from tapping investment in water tourism.

People’s interest
The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Senator Olorunnimbe Mamora said the agreement was signed in good faith and in the best interest of the people, noting that the previous administration in the State prepared the groundwork for collaboration between NIWA and LASWA.

The NIWA boss said Sanwo-Olu’s anxiousness to see the end of the dispute led to the agreement, which would result in increased surveillance on waterways, harmony in tariffs and regulations.

“We don’t need the court to intervene in ensuring safety on waterways and protecting the rights of our people and avoiding multiple taxation which discourages investors. These are the areas we are partnering on. This agreement shows that we care for our people, particularly the users of the waterways.

“This agreement means better life for our people. What we have signed today will promote better working relationship and collaboration for the good of our people. Our desire is to see the possibility of settling out of court, because this disagreement has been on for over 10 years. The most important thing is that, once we have this understanding, we won’t have issues. Investors, too, would be free to come in, since they know there is no friction and restrictions again,” Mamora stated

The General Manager Lagos State Wastewater Authority, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, however expressed optimism that the collaboration would promote safety standards and also addressed the incessant boat mishap on the waterways.

 

Mercy Chukwudiebere