By Adedayo Akinwale
The Nigeria Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has decried the development of property on waterways without its approval.
The agency has also threatened to shut down Nera Hotel, Abuja for infringing on Jabi lake waterways.
The Managing Director of the agency, George Monghalu, disclosed this Wednesday in Abuja during his official visit to the lake, where he assured the people that he would visit other NIWA locations across the country in the course of his assignment.
He also revealed the plan of the agency to clear all the debris and water hyacinth on the lake.
Monghalu said his agency wants to take advantage of Jabi lake, develop it and make it a tourist centre so that it can generate revenue for the government and also make it a resort where people can go for relaxation.
He noted that as the name of the agency implies, it is concerned about everywhere there is water because by the NIWA Act, 100 metres from the tip of the water is NIWA land.
Monghalu stated: “Like it is expected, some people are infringing on it, some people are even developing property on our rights of way without the approval of NIWA. I don’t know whether you saw me questioning the management of the hotel here (Nera) that the buildings are on the rights way of NIWA and demand notices have been sent and they keep ignoring it, and we threaten we are going to shut down the place. Now they are now desirous of talking with us.
“So, we have a lot to do and not only here, across the country and you may wish to know Nigeria has 10,000 kilometres of waterways of which 3,000 and above is all year round navigable.
“We need to develop these waterways because we have a lot to gain as a nation. Apart from the support on the economy, the employment opportunities it is going to provide, decongesting our port. If most of the waterways are functional, open and viable, most of the loads of containers you have today causing the Apapa gridlock will become a thing of the past because those consignment can be moved by water to various places because through our waterways we can reach 28 states of the country.”
He stressed that it was not his intention to demolish property infringing on the rights of way except where their lives are threatened or they have caused a total abridgment of the master plan which he said was not in the purview or the agency’s mandate.
He however emphasised that for the mere fact that they have infringed, there are fines to be paid, and there are penalties to go with it and it has to be paid.
Monghalu explained further that the Jabi lake would be developed through a Public Private Partnership (PPP) arrangement.