Story by Seun Ibiyemi
There has been a cold war between the Bayelsa State Government and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) over removal and disposal of wrecks within the Inland waterways of the state.
While it was gathered that the Seriake Dickson led government has directed shipping operators in the state to take instructions from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), in line with scrapping and removal of ship wreck; NIWA has maintained that anybody caught violating the directive will be dealt with.
NIWA explained that while NIMASA covers the coastal waters, its jurisdiction covers the inland waterways, including rivers, creeks and lakes , thus has the sole responsibility to survey, removal and disposal of wrecks within the Inland waterways in Nigeria.
The statement released and signed by management of NIWA, described comments and announcement by the state government on the electronic media as misleading.
According to the statement “The attention of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been drawn to a recent announcement on Radio and Television credited to the Attorney General of Bayelsa State, Mr. Arthur Andrew Seweniowor claiming that the Bayelsa State Ministry of Transport has the authorization of NIMASA to function as receiver of wrecks within the Inland Waterways of Bayelsa State.
“We hereby refute as follows: “The act establishing NIWA, CAP 47 LFN 2004, particularly part II section 9 (d), part iv section 28 (2) empowers NIWA as the sole agency for survey, removal and disposal of wrecks within the Inland waterways in Nigeria.
“That NIMASA’s jurisdiction does not conflict with that of NIWA. While NIMASA covers the coastal waters, NIWA’s jurisdiction covers the inland waterways, including Rivers, Creeks and Lakes.
“Consequently, any person or organisation involved in salvaging, cutting, scrapping or disposing of wrecks within the Inland waterways of Bayelsa State, and indeed Nigeria, is advised to obtain the necessary clearance from NIWA.
“Failure to do so may lead to severe sanctions,” the statement added.