Boat mishap: HURIWA urges FG to secure lives on waterways
Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA) has called on the Federal Government to ensure the safety of travellers on waterways.
This followed a boat accident that claimed 28 lives in Niger State, on Sunday.
Expressing the group’s heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the victims, National Coordinator of HURIWA, Emmanuel Onwubiko, prayed for the speedy recovery of survivors.
The group said the incident was not an isolated case, but a reflection of a larger problem of negligence, corruption and mismanagement that plague the country’s inland waterways.
Quoting the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) that only 3,000km of Nigeria’s 10,000km of navigable waterways were being utilised, Onwubiko said the implication was that millions of Nigerians, who depend on rivers for transportation, fishing and farming were exposed to unsafe and substandard boats, lack of life jackets, poor weather forecasting, inadequate regulation and enforcement, as well as environmental degradation.
According to the group, more than 150 persons have died in boat accidents across the country, including in Kwara, Kebbi, Lagos and Benue states.
“These are deaths that could have been avoided, if the government had taken its responsibility to protect the lives and rights of its citizens seriously. It is unacceptable that in the 21st century Nigerians are still dying in large numbers from avoidable causes.
“Government should implement and enforce strict safety standards for all boats operating on the inland waterways, including regular inspection, registration, licensing, insurance and maintenance. Boats that do not meet these standards should be impounded and their owners prosecuted,” the group said.
According to HURIWA, if these measures are followed, they will go a long way in reducing the frequency and severity of boat accidents in Nigeria, and in safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians who depend on the waterways.
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