The National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA, has been assured of the support of the Akwa Ibom State Government in its effort to enforce safety and security on our inland waterways.
Governor Akpabio gave the assurance at the National Conference organized by the National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA held at the Le Meridien Hotel and Golf Resort, Uyo recently to fashion out functional navigational regulations that will meet the global best practices.
Speaking through the Commissioner for Transport, Prince Godwin Ntukudeh, Governor Akpabio stressed the need for strict adherence to safety codes by canoe and boat operators while calling for proper training of all boat operators plying the Nigerian inland waterways to ensure safety.
The governor thanked NIWA for choosing Uyo for the conference and assured them of the preparedness of his government to partner with them to succeed.
The conference follows on the rising incidence of boat mishaps recorded on the Nigerian waterways to sensitize and promote safety on the waterways in compliance with safety related matters of the International Maritime Organization(IMO)/International Ship and Port Facility Security (ISPS) Code and Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
In the keynote address to declare the three days conference open, the Minister of Transport, senator Idris Umar, stated the government’s resolve to harness and maximize the potentials of the maritime sector for national development.
The minister who was represented by the Permanent Secretary Federal Ministry of Transport, Engr. Nebolisa Emordi Disclosed that more river ports at Boro, Oguta, Lokoja and Makurdi which are at various stage of completion stand to operate optimally after the resolution of the conference. In his words ‘the conference is a step in the right direction aimed at achieving the much desired safety of the waterways in order to make river ports functional and viable’.
Delegates at the conference were drawn from the major maritime sector to rub minds on the very sensitive issues militating against smooth operation of the inland waterways transportation and to come up with realistic and
Enforceable inland waterways Transportation Code that would enable government to make good policy decisions that will improve the operations of the sector.
Earlier in the welcome address, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer MD/CEO of NIWA, Hajia Inna Maryam Ciroma (CON), pointed out the non-existing Navigational Guidelines and Rules governing the use of the nation’s inland waterways to guarantee safe navigation which has resulted in several boat mishaps in recent times due to failure by boat operators and passengers to obey basic safety rules and navigational regulations.
Hajia Ciroma disclosed that NIWA has embarked on safety awareness campaign among the local canoe and boat operators and donated free life jackets with enlightenment posters on how to operate safely on the waterways.
She expressed the hope that the conference will formulate regulation guidelines on maximum load of watercrafts, maximum capacity of passengers, speed limit, light control, effective communication on the boats among others things.