By OlaoluÂ Oladipo, Lagos
Lagos State Government has stated that it served eviction notices toÂ ferry and jetty operators, Tarzan Marine Enterprises and Metro FerryÂ to ensure strict adherence to safety measures and international bestÂ practices.A statement signed by the Managing Director of the Lagos StateÂ Waterways Authority (LASWA), Ms Abisola Kamson stated that the stateÂ government served the notice on the operations of the company in IjedeÂ and Badore jetties as it could not validate its claims of a purportedÂ 25 years concession agreement with the government in 2006.
According to Kamson, the immediate past administration of GovernorÂ Babatunde Fashola had investigated the claim by setting up a TaskÂ Force in 2010 to validate the claim that they had made two paymentsÂ totalling N2.1million to the defunct Lagos State Ferry Services for aÂ 25 years concession, but the claims could not be validated.
â€œBased on that, Tarzan was asked to move out then, but through someÂ back door arrangement, he came back to the terminals and all theÂ while, he has been holding on to a receipt that has not been validated
and which could be potentially forged because there was no trace of Â any payment. He could also not provide the purported 25 years Â concession when asked.â€
Speaking on the eviction served to Metro Ferry, Kamson said theÂ operator was given approval on the Oworonsoki Terminal by the StateÂ Government to convey staff of Total from the terminus to their office
on the Island, but went beyond the terms of approval.
â€œThe approval clearly states that the ownership and maintenance of theÂ jetty shall be retained by the Lagos State Government. It clearlyÂ states that it shall be made available for the general public and
other licensed ferry operators. It clearly states that they must carryÂ out all operations in conformity with extant health and safetyÂ regulations set by LASWA. The approval states all of that veryÂ clearly.
â€œBut in breach of the approval, first of all, they were collectingÂ fees from other people to use the jetty without remitting anything toÂ government. They were in fact asking the agency of the State
Government, Lagos Ferry Services Corporation to pay and that is inÂ clear violation of the agreement they had with government,â€ she said.
On the operation of the Elegbeta and Ikorodu jetties, Kamson explainedÂ that the State Government allocated a parcel of lands to Metro FerryÂ to use as an operational base, which was to enable them pick and dropÂ off passengers as well as establish a ticketing office.
She however said that Metro Ferry went beyond the approval to developÂ the land for other purposes beyond using the property for theirÂ operational base.
â€œThey have gone ahead to have a car park, they have made it into aÂ commercial jetty which they charge people; they collect all theseÂ monies and remits in line with that. All of a sudden, they are now
saying they have a C of O which we were not aware of and they neverÂ informed us even in our meetings with themâ€.
She said aside the breach of terms by Metro Ferry, they had jettisonedÂ safety standards required for operating such commercial jetties, whichÂ according to her necessitated the eviction.
â€œBut our position as a State Government is that in line withÂ overriding public interest, our vision is to have safe practices. WeÂ can no longer accept the unsafe practices being carried out by MetroÂ Ferry in Ikorodu. First, they have wooden jetty with diesel and fuelÂ stored in jerry cans. There are no provisions for disabled people andÂ there are no proper loading and disembarking of passengers.
Besides, Kamson while reiterating the commitment of the government toÂ encourage private sector participation said that the administration ofÂ Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was developing a master plan for waterÂ transportation that would accommodate local and internationalÂ investors and guide them to operate within a specified framework so asÂ to ensure that the required standard is not compromised.
â€œThe state is committed to modern ferries being operated. The State isÂ going to embark on channelization of all the ferry routes within theÂ state to make it modern and conform with the new regulations we haveÂ developed.
â€œNew modern jetties and safe terminals are being developed by theÂ state. We have private investors already and all these will be comingÂ on board starting next month. We are all working together to developÂ the new guidelines to ensure that all these mishaps on the water willÂ be minimized.Â Safety is paramount and it will be standard that isÂ comparable to international best practices,â€ Kamson said.