The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has urged the Lagos State Government to obey a Federal High Court judgement restricting it from regulating commercial activities of dredgers in the state.
The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Mr Mu’azu Sambo made the plea in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Lagos.
Sambo was reacting to some guidelines issued by the Dredging and Monitoring Unit of the Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructure Development (MWFID).
The ministry said that the guidelines regulating dredging activities in the state had been in existence for long but the operators had not adhered to it.
It said that the state government intended to regulate dredging activities to protect the interest of the state.
The area manager said the court ruled in 2014 that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and NIWA were the proper and lawful agencies allowed to regulate the dredgers.
He explained that the court, therefore, restrained the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and the Lagos State Ministry of Waterfront Infrastructural Development from collecting and imposing charges on dredgers.
“Mineral, mining, oil and water resources are controlled by the Federal Government and are in the exclusive legislative list of the Constitution.
“There is due diligence in the process of obtaining permits or licences from NIWA, NIMASA and the Federal Ministry of Mines and Steel Development,” the NIWA chief said.
Sambo said that both the state and local governments received monthly allocations from the Federation Account, into which all revenues including sand dredging revenues were paid.
“The state governments should therefore be satisfied with their allocations, ” he said.
The area manager said that NIWA was ever ready to work in collaboration with the state government to ensure a peaceful and safe working environment for dredgers.
He said that NIWA would not allow the state to flout extant laws and judicial pronouncement.
Sambo decried both the activities of illegal dredgers and the multiple levies being imposed on the dredgers by the state government.
“I am not happy with illegal activities and multiple levies imposed on dredgers in the state because NIWA is in charge of regulating all commercial activities on the waterways.
“The authority’s (NIWA) priority is to ensure that operators work in accordance with the rules and regulations and to also ensure smooth running of commercial activities on the waterways.
The area manager said that NIWA would continue to be in the fore front in addressing and regulating all commercial activities on nation’s waterways in line with the constitution.