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Lagos demands state control of inland waterways
By Oluwole Josiah, Abuja
Published: Wednesday, 28 May 2008
The Lagos State Government has demanded that the states of the federation should be allowed to have authority over the administration of the waterways within their states.
Speaking at the Senate public hearing on the Inland Waterways Authority Act on Tuesday, Mr. Babatunde Ogala, who is the Chairman of the Lagos State House Committee on the Judiciary, said it was against the spirit of federalism and the Constitution for the National Assembly to make laws for the administration of inland waters in the states.
He argued that the issue of transportation was a matter on the residual list of the Constitution in which the state legislature had powers to make laws.
He also argued that just as the states had powers to intervene in matters of road construction and traffic matters, they should also have powers to make laws in matters relating to water transportation.
He also rejected the provision in the proposed bill giving powers to NIWA to regulate developments in lands contiguous to the right of way of the navigable waters.
He said, “We wish to observe that the Land Use Act, which has constitutional force, places the powers of land administration on state governments. The act cannot be amended by any bill or act of the National Assembly.
“The control of land and the issues of land development cannot be within the jurisdiction of the National Assembly.”
He suggested that the Federal Government could make policies with the collaboration of state governments with a view to developing the inland waterways.
Ogala noted that the proposed bill assumed that the Land Use Act could be amended by a law of the National Assembly.
Speaking in the same vein, the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation of Nigeria, also faulted some provisions of the NIWA Act on the construction of pipelines across rivers.
Speaking on behalf of the corporation, the Managing Director of Products and Pipelines Marketing Company, Mr. Regninus Stanley, said there was a remarkable conflict between the NIWA Act and the one setting up the Nigeria Ports Authority.
According to him, the empowerment of NIWA to license boats, jetties, barges and other water vehicles was a duplication of the provisions of the NPA Act.
He said the problem of double payment of fees was becoming a problem facing operators within the sector.
The Minister of Mines and Steel, Tunji Ishola Sharafa, told the committee that the NIWA Act was in conflict with the Mining Act which was passed by the National Assembly.
According to him, while there could be collaboration on matters relating to inland waterways as it relates to the use of mineral resources within lands bordering the waters, there was a need to make laws that would erase possible areas of conflict within the enabling laws.