The National President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria (ATBOWATN), Mr. Ganiyu sekoni Balogun has scored the government low in water hyacinth removal from the nation’s waterways..
Balogun who made his feelings known in an interview with Primetime Reporters in Lagos recently admitted that government had been doing the much it could in removing water hyacinth from the waterways but was quick to add the more needed to be done to put the menace on check.
He however blamed the inability of the government to totally eradicate water hyacinth from the waterways on the civil servants who he said sabotage the efforts of the government by not telling it the truth.
“They have not done enough. If you want to say that they have done enough, that means, you shouldn’t see them (water hyacinth) coming up but they are trying. I am aware that Lagos State government has water hyacinth harvester, in fact, our association was invited during the commissioning of the water hyacinth and NIWA also have its own harvester. They are doing their best but it could have been better if some other things are done which I wouldn’t want to say because of my business.
“The Governor sits in his office, I don’t expect the Governor to be going on the waters looking for water hyacinth all over the place neither do I expect the Minister in charge of water transport to do the same because we have some civil servants that are in charge of these things that are sent out but instead of them giving the story the way it is, they will be saying a different thing. So, because you are not telling the Governor or the Minister what they need to know, you are the one creating problem for them”, he said.
Balogun who is also the Managing Director of Gani-Tarzan Marine Enterprises Nigeria Limited also blamed government’s inability to procure and position waste disposal bins at strategic locations for the people to dispose their waste rather than throwing them on the water as being responsible for a number of dirt found on the waterways which in turn impede the smooth running of the boats.
In his words,” In Victoria Island, you cannot mention one or two public toilets, the same with Lekki Phase One. Government needs to put such infrastructure on ground. Our waters are being used as dustbin where people go and throw their garbage. You see a lot of garbage that the tide brought up along the shores. But if along this line government provides where people can dispose of their waste like we have in other countries and which we can afford to do but we have not been doing, if those things are there, all these rubbish you are seeing on the waterways will not be there”.
While adding that concession to private sector operator of the management of water hyacinth could go a long way in dealing with the menace, however said that government should first of all put in place waste disposal measures to curb incessant dumping of refuse on the waterways otherwise, government would be spending more in contracts to evacuate dirt from the waterways than it would in procuring waste bins.
“You see, if it is concessioned out without first of all addressing where people throw their garbage, you will just find out that there will be more on the water because the people want to get money out from the government. So, the best thing is to get where the garbage will be disposed of first, then you now start removing the one on the water because if you don’t do that, you remove the one on the waters today, tomorrow, they will throw another one. If you give the contract to Tarzan today, I will tell people please keep throwing dirt inside the water so that my contract will be sustained”, he said.
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