By Desmond Ejibas
The House of Representatives on Tuesday said it was worried about the rising pollution of waterways in the Niger Delta.
Rep. Yusuf Gadji, Chairman, House Committee on Navy, expressed the worry in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on the sideline of a maritime stakeholders meeting in Port Harcourt.
NAN reports that the meeting which held at the Nigerian Navy Ship (NNS) Pathfinder Base, sought to address challenges affecting operations of the navy in the region.
According to Gadji, the committee will seek legislation to address the rising pollution, partly caused by unwholesome practices by maritime operators.
“It is a common sight that when you on the waterways, you will find ships covering natural routes (spaces) in navy jetties and drums of oil littering the entire area.
“We are worried with this situation and the level of pollution on our waterways. But we cannot talk about protecting the waterways without having enabling legislation.
“So, we need to have an enabling legislation that will empower the navy to protect our waterways,” he said.
He said the committee would look into the Navy Act with a view to making adjustments to some of the areas in the provisions that were “ancient.”
“We will decide to bring modern provision that will stimulate the navy to enable it to function effectively in securing the maritime environment.
“We will also put laws that will secure the business environment for private maritime logistic companies to guarantee safety operations in our waterways,” he said.
Gadji said that some activities of some unnamed agencies of government had inadvertently affected operations of the navy.
He said it was wrong that after the navy arrested and handed over vessels to prosecuting agencies, the navy still detailed personnel to guard the seized vessels.
“This is wrong as it over stretches and adds additional pressure to the Nigerian navy. We need cooporation of all stakeholders.
“So, we decided to meet the Nigeria Customs Service, Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC), Police and other stakeholders to find a way of addressing the problems.
“We think that when all agencies do what is expected of them, it will add to successes recorded in the reduction of maritime crimes since 2015 to date,” he added.
The committee chairman said that efforts were being made to increase the number of intakes into the navy as well as improve infrastructure, logistics, platforms, accommodation and jetties.
He commended the navy for the projects completed in the various formations and units from its budgetary allocation, urging other organizations to emulate it.
The Flag Officer Commanding Eastern Naval Command, Calabar, Rear Adm. David Adeniran, commended the house of representatives for its commitment to mitigate some challenges facing navy operations.
He said the support of stakeholders would help the navy to better police the maritime domain and reduce crimes in the waterways. (NAN)