Lagos begins clean-up of waterways with new water hyacinth machines

Lagos State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode

•    Boat operators laud him over equipment

LAGOS State governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode, on Thursday began the process of ridding the state’s waterways of debris and hyacinth, with the view to boost water transportation and positively scale up activities relating to the waterways.

Governor Ambode, who spoke at the commissioning of two Water Hyacinth and Debris Removal Machines held at Ebute Ero Jetty, said for a long time, hyacinth, which was otherwise known as aquatic weed, had been a major source of concern with attendant challenges to the waterways sector.

Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for the Environment, Dr Babatunde Adejare, said the machines were purchased by his administration to frontally address the challenges posed by water hyacinth, adding that same was in line with the strategic implementation of Lagos master plan for the waterways.

“We have bought the machines to take away debris and hyacinth from the Lagoon. The machines will encourage water transportation and this initiative is necessary now that we are working towards clean-up of the waterways.

“It will also encourage fishery so that the water economy will be improved upon,” the governor said.

In her welcome remarks, Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Engr Abisola Kamson, said the commissioning was a dream come true as the machines would go a long way in eradicating the menace of water hyacinth on marine ecosystems of the state particularly the Ikorodu, Ajah, Badagry, Lagos Island, Oworonshoki, Mile 2 and Epe axis.

She said aside negatively affecting the socio-economic activities of fishermen and inhabitants of the riverine communities, water hyacinth, which is a seasonal threat, had brought about damages to propulsion system of boats thus affecting water transportation.

Giving technical insight as to the workings of the machine, Kamson said it acts like an underwater lawn mower and cuts the vegetation, as well as collects and store weeds and debris, while it is fitted with a pick up conveyor at the forward end, which can be lowered up to six feet deep into the water for effective cleaning of the waterways.

She said: “This symbolic gesture by the Lagos State government is jump-starting the clean-up of our waterways and preparing ground for other revolutionary activities of LASWA’s development plan to transform the Lagos Waterways to world class standards.

“To us at LASWA and indeed the entire waterways family, we will remain ever grateful to Governor Ambode and the entire State cabinet for arming us with teeth to bite the water hyacinth menace that continuously traumatise our waterways.”

She also pledged that the machines would not be under-utilised, assuring that they would be deployed immediately for clean-up of the waterways.

Besides, Kamson said arrangement had been concluded with the Ministry of the Environment to increase monitoring activities with the view to ensuring that those who disrespect the waterways through dumping of waste, pollution, defecation and other illegal activities were made to face the full wrath of the law.

On his part, Chairman, Lagos State Chapter of Association of Tourism Boat Water Operators, Chief Wellington Ilori-Akingbulu, commended Governor Ambode and his team for the initiative, saying the machines would go a long way to remove the incessant accidents and engine problems caused by water hyacinth and debris.