NIWA to reduce accidents on inland waterways
The National Inland Waterways Authorities (NIWA) has inaugurated an Inland Waterways Safety Joint Task Force to enforce safety protocols on Lagos waterways.
The Task Force comprises officials from NIWA, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Association of Tourist Boats and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) as well as the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA).
The agency also commissioned three patrol boats that would monitor the waterways as part of efforts to avert over 90 per cent boat mishaps.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, disclosed this at the commissioning of the boats during NIWA stakeholders forum for boat operators in Lagos.
Moghalu explained that the three boats were part of the 20 patrol boats recently procured by the agency across all its area offices.
He lamented how operators flout directives of the agency by operating night trips. He noted that over 90 per cent of boat mishaps on waterways occur during night trips.
Moghalu added that some of these boats do not have light navigational aids, even as some operators overload their boats and refuse to give passengers life jackets to wear.
He said many of the accidents that have claimed lives on the nation’s inland waterways have been due to overloading issues during the ferry services.
“Another issue that has been bothering us has to do with night boat trips. Our directive is clear, boats should not ply the waterways once it is 6:30 pm. The taskforce will ensure compliance on our waterways just as our patrol boats will be combing the Lagos inland waterways on a 24-hour basis to apprehend operators who default on these safety rules henceforth,” he said
Speaking earlier, the General Manager Marine Operations of NIWA, Joseph Ororo, announced the agency’s launch of an electronic platform, noting that from January 1, 2022, all registration processes for boats and crafts would be done online.
He said with this application, all boats across Nigerian waterways would be monitored, noting that in the case of theft, it would be located, while those engaging in illegal activities would easily be apprehended and sanctioned.
Ororo equally announced that the agency has procured two ambulances, even as one of them has been deployed to the Lagos area, adding that the procurement of seven extra ambulances are ongoing.
Also speaking, the President-General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Adewale Adeyanju commended NIWA for its efforts at transforming the waterways.
Adeyanju, who was represented by his Deputy President General, Francis Bunu, expressed confidence that the Task Force, when in operation, would put an end to issues of double taxation of boat operators by the various regulatory agencies.
On his part, President of ATBOWATON, Tarzan Balogun asked NIWA to provide navigational aids to enable operators to work at night.