By Raji Rasak
A group of fishermen under the aegis of Association of Badagry Fishermen (ABF) has cried out against alleged destructive activities of commercial boat operators on Lagos waterways.
ABF Chairman, Sunday Ayedogbon, told the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Tuesday in Badagry that the boat operators worked all nights on waterways in contravention of 6:30 a.m. to 6:30p.m. as directed by Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Ayedogbon said that the illegal operating hours by the commercial boat operators had resulted in many casualties and damage to their fishing nets.
“We set our fishing nets in evenings, hoping that the boat operators would have gone home to sleep, hoping to catch as many fish as possible.
“But all of a sudden, their boats will appear carrying passengers and goods, damaging the set nets.
“In 2019, I lost my fishing nets worth over N370,000 when their boats cut the nets into pieces; I went to the Naval Base to report the incident.
“Most of the fishermen in Badagry cannot go out for fishing because of the havoc these operators are causing us.
“This makes it difficult for some of us to feed our families because this is our means of surviving. We are appealing to the government to come to our rescue,” he said.
Mrs Magret Akin, a widow, who is into fishing, said the activities of boat operators in the evenings deprived them of sleep in the night.
“I live beside the lagoon, we cannot set our nets on the river and when we want to sleep in the night, we can’t sleep well because of the noise from their engines when they are passing.
“The noise of their engine wakes you up anytime you are sleeping.
“I just returned from the sea now without a catch, this is very sad,” she said.
Also, Mr John Bojrenu, a retired teacher who is also into fishing, said the nocturnal activities of the boat operators had resulted in loss of lives and property in the area.
“About a week ago, a pregnant woman was killed by a boat carrying loads, the operator did not stop at all.
“Also, along Apa-Gbaji waterways, two boats collided in the middle of the night because there was no light.
“We need the government intervention to enforce regulation of boat operators,” he said.
Reacting, Mr Temitope Fajemirokun, Chairman of Commercial Boat Operators in Badagry, however, denied the allegations.
According to Fajemirokun, the boat operators are law abiding citizens “and we don’t operate at nights.”
He said that if the fishermen had any complaints, they should approach security operatives in the area for necessary action.
“They should come out and defend their allegations,” he said.
Fajemirokun said that activities of the fishermen had also injured his members, adding that the incidents had been reported to the regulators for action. (NAN)