The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has issued a statement denying responsibility for the recent building collapse in Lagos. In a press release, Jubril Dar’dau, General Manager of Public Affairs at NIWA, stated that the authority was not to blame for the incident and that the Lagos State Government was responsible for issuing building permits.
The statement followed allegations by the Lagos State Government that NIWA was partly responsible for the collapse of the building on Banana Island. The government accused the Federal Government agency of being reckless in issuing permits and not considering the area’s topography.
However, the NIWA boss, Dr George Moghalu, stated that the authority had never granted any license or permit in respect of the site where the collapse occurred. He emphasized that building permits fell under the jurisdiction of State Governments, including Lagos State. Therefore, where such permits were illegally obtained, such faults or omission could only be attributed to the State Government that issued them and not the Federal Government or any of its agencies.
Investigations revealed that the collapsed building was constructed on lines 15 and 16 of the original plan of Banana Island, and not on any subsequent extensions. The responsibility to inspect every stage of building construction remains that of the Lagos State Government and its officials. Thus, the blame should not be transferred to the Federal Government or NIWA.
The NIWA statement also noted that the Lagos State Governor had admitted in a recent publication that it was the State Government’s responsibility to issue building approval. The Governor stated that all four buildings at the back of the collapsed building never received approval, which he described as an illegality. He also admitted that some officials of the Lagos State Building Control Agency (LASBCA) were corrupt and would be held responsible for the collapse of the seven-story building on the island.
The NIWA boss, therefore, condemned the insinuations and allegations by the Lagos State Government and emphasized that the authority was a law-abiding agency of the Federal Government, in compliance with its establishing Act. The authority issues permits for the use of right of way, activities within the waterways of Nigeria, and reclamation. However, there is no provision in the Act that mandates the authority to issue building permits/approvals and Certificate of Occupancy.
The allegations by Lagos State Government against NIWA were short on facts and carried no weight. The authority dissociated itself from the statements and allegations of the Lagos State Government over the collapsed building in Banana Island, describing them as false, baseless, and a misrepresentation of the issues that led to the collapse.