The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) said it has identified 108 wrecks littering the Lagos waterways and constituting navigational threats to water transportation in the State.
Managing Director of LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, disclosed this during a panel session at the maiden annual conference of the Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) in Lagos.
Emmanuel said the location of the identified wrecks would be made available online to enable boat captains and barge operators avoid the wrecks and prevent boat mishaps on the waterways.
He noted that while the Authority is working together with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to clear the waterways of wrecks, both agencies may not be able to remove all the identified wrecks within a reasonable timeframe due to budgetary constraints.
He said, “Late last year, we were able to mark the entire waterways of all the wrecks and we found out that there are 108 wrecks, which are currently marked and we are also going to make that available online for people to have access to those wrecks.
“Every year, we identify strategic wrecks on our waterways, which both NIWA and LASWA remove on a yearly basis.
“This is something that is jointly done together but we have to also accept which ones we can prioritize and remove due to budgetary constraints. If you look at the 108 wrecks, how long will it take the Lagos State or federal government to remove those amounts of wrecks?
“We have to ensure therefore that the relevant stakeholders are aware of where those wrecks.”
In terms of channelisation and dredging of the waterways, Emmanuel said the Ikorodu to Falomo routes are currently being channelised by the State government to improve navigation while discussions are ongoing to engage the private sector in the area of dredging.
“We are in discussions with the private sector to see how innovative we can get in dredging and channelization? Is there a process where companies can dredge, pick up the sand and sell instead of waiting for the state government to dredge the channels?
“In the meantime, this year alone, the state government is doing two major channelization projects. There is the Ikorodu to Falomo. The area is commonly navigable but we realise that Ilaje, which is in Barige, was not fully opened up and navigable. So, we have picked up that Bariga area for dredging and channelization is going on there right now. There is also the Ojo to Badagry route,” he said.
Commenting on duplication of functions between LASWA and NIWA, Emmanuel said what is of concern to the present management of the authority is safety in the nation’s inland waterways and not pursuit of revenue generation.
“What we are trying to achieve at the end of the day is safety and ensuring we are moving people from one point to another point. In doing that, I can tell you we have put revenue at the bottom. Currently, our capital expenditure is at 80 to 20 percent of the revenue we generate on an annual basis and it is intentional to show that we are more interested in the growth of the sector more than the revenue. If there is any operator who wants to question that, they should come and check the book,” he said.