‘Jetty owners, boat operators, passengers risk seven years jail term for rules violation’
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has released a new regulation to curb rising cases of boat accidents and loss of lives.
The regulation metes out seven years imprisonment to owners of jetties where boat operators violate regulations.
Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Sarat Braimah, disclosed this yesterday during a sensitisation programme, after leading officials to some riverine communities in Lagos.
According to Braimah, the new legislation is part of government’s effort to curb the incessant loss of lives occasioned by non-compliance to waterway regulations.
“The Ministry of Justice has gazetted a new waterways regulation, which stipulates seven years imprisonment for community leaders who operate jetties as well as private operators where boats are overloaded. The same penalty goes for operators and passengers who fail to use life-jackets and other non-compliance to waterways regulations,” the NIWA boss said.
During the tour, Braimah directed the seizure of substandard life-jackets found at retail stores around the communities, describing them as deadly as fake drugs.
While donating authentic life-jackets at the communities, she used the opportunity to differentiate between fake or substandard life-jackets and standard ones.
Noting that most boat accidents occur at early hours or late at night, she reiterated that NIWA has banned night sailing beyond 7:00p.m.
Speaking at Sagbo Koji, one of the riverine communities visited, Braima warned boat operators against driving their boats without paddles as they would be unable to ferry such boats to the nearest shore if the boat engine suddenly fails.
She stressed that the visit was to rub minds with the community on ways to curb boat accidents and consequent loss of lives.
She said: “You can tell us where the government has lapses so we can improve, while we work together to remove the human element problems. Most boat accidents are results of human element, which is non-compliance to regulations.
“We have repeated it severally that there should be no night sailing from 7:00p.m. It is better to stay alive and travel the next day than to endanger your life at night. I’m pleading with the three Baales here to help us achieve this. Boat drivers should have licences because training is key. Don’t patronise unregistered boats and unnamed boats. There will be NIWA’s stickers to identify registered boats.”
EARLIER, the community Youth Leader, Mr. Bobby Sanni advised the Authority to include youths in their task force since most police officers and NIWA operatives close from jetties at 6:00p.m., but the youths could help spotlight nocturnal operations.
In her response, the NIWA Area Manager assured that the Authority would partner youths in the community to achieve its mandate, even as she led the NIWA team to Irede community around Abule-Osun, and Ibeshe community for the sensitization campaign.
Other infractions pointed out by the NIWA boss in boat operations, include: dangerous driving and over-speeding, driving rickety and leaky boats, passenger manifest violation, non-availability of fire extinguisher, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, fighting at jetties, obstructing and assault of task force on duty.
She also gave out emergency numbers of the Authority to community leaders and boat operators at the different communities.