The Lagos State Government on Friday said its decision to serve eviction notices to Tarzan Marine Enterprises and Metro Ferry, both operators of commercial jetties in the State, was in line with overriding public interest and quest to ensure strict adherence to safety measures and international best practices.
In a statement signed by the Managing Director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Ms Abisola Kamson, the State Government said that Messrs Tarzan was served an eviction notice on its operation in Ijede and Badore jetties as they could not validate their claims of a purported 25 years concession which the operator alleged to have entered with the government in 2006.
According to Kamson, the previous administration of Governor Babatunde Fashola had investigated the claim by setting up a Task Force in 2010 to validate the claim that they had made two payments totaling N2.1million to the defunct Lagos State Ferry Services for a 25 years concession, but the claims could not be validated.
She said: "Based on that, Tarzan was asked to move out then, but through some back door arrangement, he came back to the terminals and all the 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 any payment. He could also not provide the purported 25 years concession when asked."
Speaking on the eviction served to Metro Ferry, Kamson said the operator was given approval on the Oworonsoki Terminal by the State Government to convey staff of Total from the terminus to their office on the Island, but went beyond the terms of approval.
"The approval clearly states that the ownership and maintenance of the jetty shall be retained by the Lagos State Government. It clearly states that it shall be made available for the general public and other licensed ferry operators. It clearly states that they must carry out all operations in conformity with extant health and safety regulations set by LASWA. The approval states all of that very clearly.
"But in breach of the approval, first of all, they were collecting fees from other people to use the jetty without remitting anything to government. They were in fact asking the agency of the State Government, Lagos Ferry Services Corporation to pay and that is in clear violation of the agreement they had with government," she said.
On the operation of the Elegbeta and Ikorodu jetties, Kamson explained that the State Government allocated a parcel of lands to Metro Ferry to use as an operational base, which was to enable them pick and drop off passengers as well as establish a ticketing office.
She however said that Metro Ferry went beyond the approval to develop the land for other purposes beyond using the property for their operational base.
“They have gone ahead to have a car park, they have made it into a commercial jetty which they charge people; they collect all these 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 never informed us even in our meetings with them”.
She said aside the breach of terms by Metro Ferry, they had jettisoned safety standards required for operating such commercial jetties, which according to her necessitated the eviction.
“But our position as a State Government is that in line with overriding public interest, our vision is to have safe practices. We can no longer accept the unsafe practices being carried out by Metro Ferry in Ikorodu. First, they have wooden jetty with diesel and fuel stored in jerry cans. There are no provisions for disabled people and there are no proper loading and disembarking of passengers.
Besides, Kamson while reiterating the commitment of the government to encourage private sector participation said that the administration of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode was developing a master plan for water transportation that would accommodate local and international investors and guide them to operate within a specified framework so as to ensure that the required standard is not compromised.
"The state is committed to modern ferries being operated. The State is going to embark on channelization of all the ferry routes within the state to make it modern and conform with the new regulations we have developed.
"New modern jetties and safe terminals are being developed by the state. We have private investors already and all these will be coming on board starting next month. We are all working together to develop the new guidelines to ensure that all these mishaps on the water will be minimized. Safety is paramount and it will be standard that is comparable to international best practices," Kamson said.