Legal Battle Looms Over Eviction Of Jetty Operators
…As Lagos Gives Reasons For Evicting Tarzan, Metro Ferry
There are indications that the legal battle between Tarzan Marine Enterprises and the Lagos state government over the latter’s eviction notice to the former on the Badore, Ijede, Oke Ira Nla and Ibeshe jetties may commence any moment from soon.
Abelnews gathered that already the company has started filing its papers.
The Managing Director Managing Director, Tarzan Marine Enterprises, Mr Tarzan Ganiyu Balogun had cried out that eight days ago over the eviction notice served the company on Badire, Ijede, Oke Ira Nla and Ibeshe jetties despite investing over N5 billion on the facilities and signing 25-year lease agreement duly approved by Lagos State Government.
Balogun had stated that the lease agreement between the company and Lagos state followed due process and was duly approved by the Lagos State Government under the leadership of the former governor Bola Tinubu.
Balogun had posited that apart from taken the issue to court of public opinion, the company had resolved to drag LASWA to the Federal High Court to determine if the quit notice issued the company was justified in view of the huge investment the company had invested on these projects.
“In weeks to come our lawyers will do all in their powers to prove to the world that we have been victimised, intimidated, harassed by a government that wants to create a land of hope and justice for all and sundry.” He had said
Stakeholders in the industry are worried that the legal fireworks may commence soon following explanations by the Lagos State Government that it served two ferry operators; Tarzan Marine Enterprises and Metro Ferry eviction notices in the overriding public interest and also to ensure strict compliance to safety measures and international best practices.
The reason for serving the two operators eviction notices was made known in a statement signed by the Managing Director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Ms Abisola Kamson and made available to journalists today.
Lagos through the Managing Director explained that the state government served Tarzan Marine Enterprises eviction notice on its operation in Ijede and Badore jetties as the company could not validate its claims of a purported 25-year concession that the operator allegedly entered with the government in 2006.
She further informed that the Babatunde Fashola led administration had investigated the claim by setting up a Task Force in 2010 to validate the claim that it made two payments totalling N2.1million to the defunct Lagos State Ferry Services for a 25 years concession, but the claims by the company could not be validated.
“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.” She alleged.
On the eviction order served on the second operator Metro Ferry, the LASWA boss explained that the company was given approval on the Oworonsoki Terminal by the State Government to ferry workers of Total from the terminus to their office on the Island, but that Metro Ferry went beyond the terms of approval. In her words, “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.
She continued, “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.”
Concerning the Elegbeta and Ikorodu jetties, Kamson hinted that the state government allocated a parcel of land to Metro Ferry to be used as an operational base, to enable it pick and drop off passengers as well as establish a ticketing office.
Again, LASWA boss pointed out that Metro Ferry like Tarzan Marine Enterprises went beyond the approval by going ahead to develop the land for other purposes instead of using the facility for its operational base as approved by the state government.
According to her, “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.”
Kamson disclosed that Metro Ferry apart from breaching the approved agreement, it has also jettisoned safety standards required for operating such commercial jetties, adding that brought about the eviction order served on the company.
“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.” She alleged
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode, she stated 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.