A member of the House of Representatives representing Degema/Bonny Federal Constituency, Randolph Iwo Oruene Brown has strongly advocated urgent intervention and proper management of the Nigerian coastal waterways, particularly on the Bonny Kingdom territorial waters.
Brown, who gave this indication while presenting a notice of motion titled: â€˜Proper Management of the Nigeria Coastal Waterways and Removal of Shipwreck,â€™ on the floor of the House of Reps, noted that Nigeria derives enormous benefits from her maritime industry which has continued to be a major source of sea transportation, means of livelihood, and a major income earner for government, resulting from major import and exports activities within the sea ports and waterways.
According to him, Nigeriaâ€™s coastal waterway has become a dumping ground for abandoned shipwreck all over the country, thus has become highly polluted and constantly degenerating to death traps for gluts of users.
Making a case for Bonny Island, he said: â€œWe are aware that between the upper and lower reaches of Bonny estuary in Rivers State alone (which is a part of my primary constituency), no fewer than 30 abandoned shipwrecks are found in the waterways which is constituting potential risk for both artisanal and commercial users. It has further given rise to the loss of lots of communities, beaches and mangroves as a result of erosion activities caused by the tidal influence of shipwrecks in our waterways.â€
The federal lawmaker expressed concern that in the past five years, between Bonny estuary and its adjoining creeks and tributaries, not less than 318 wreckages have occurred, leading to over 49 boats mishaps and the loss of an average of 214 lives.
Brown recalled the tragic story of death on the 29th of August 2016, where a young man Mr. Abesa Prince Brown, lost his entire family; his wife and two kids to a boat mishap, and said the situation must be nipped in the bud.
The notice of motion further expressed concern that while there are designated agencies like the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA)), saddled with responsibility of maintaining and managing our waterways, these avoidable threat has continued unabated., even when it is common knowledge that some funds released for the removal of these ship wrecks by the previous administrations some time in 2013, was not effectively utilised, leading to increase in the menace by the day.
Proffering solution as a way forward, the Degema/Bonny constituency lawmaker urged the federal government to take urgent steps to ensure that all shipwreck in our waterways are removed without further delay to enhance safety, speedy and seamless activities in the nationâ€™s maritime operations, as well as reduce potential risks and loss of lives, properties, and communities as well as enhance revenue generation from the maritime sector.
The House Committee on Maritime was mandated to investigate the issue of shipwrecks, sweeping of the waterways and the management of funds earlier released for that purpose and report back to the house within three weeks.