The Federal Government has set up the Diving Governing Board to implement the provisions of the 2018 Diving at Work Regulations even as the appointment of Mr Julius Ugwala as Chief Inspector of Diving for the country has been announced.
This development comes nearly two years after the Federal Executive Council approved the Diving at Work Regulation.
The Honourable Minister of State for Labour and Employment, Festus Keyamo, SAN who inaugurated the Board on Friday at the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja said the Board would drive the enforcement of the regulations that will restore sanity to the sector and drive a sustainable growth agenda.
He said the inauguration marked the beginning of an era in which the flagrant disregard for the safety and health status of divers would no more be condoned.
The Minister said the Board amongst its other functions would furnish the sector with a code of practice that meets global best practice.
Lamenting the poor supervision of dive operations and insufficient penalties for defaulting organisations, the Minister said the industry had been stunted by poor standards and the resultant hazards that accompanied such an anomaly.
He however expressed confidence in the ability of the Board to better the sector through the strict enforcement of the regulations and monitoring of the industry’s operations.
His words: “Today’s inauguration of the Diving Governing Board, will give impetus to the emergence of the much needed specific and detailed guidance for safe use, installation, maintenance and examination of diving programs and operations within our territorial waters, dams and other water bodies.
“The Diving Governing Board shall guide the implementation of intervention and inspection programmes to reduce injuries, illnesses and fatalities, and to eliminate occupational hazards associated with the use of diving equipment.
“Pursuant to Regulation 45 of the Diving at Work Regulations, the Diving Governing Board shall have responsibility to make decisions on issues affecting the diving industry and draft approved code of practice to guide on training and operational issues relating to diving.
“Furthermore, the Board shall advise and make recommendations to the Minister responsible for matters of labour and employment regarding any matter to which the Regulations relate, and shall conduct its work in accordance with the instructions and rules of conduct made by the Minister.”
Keyamo stressed that the constitution of the Board followed the provisions of the regulations and charged its members to adhere to the guidelines in carrying out their work as Government anticipates that their activities will foster sustainable growth in the industry.
He added that the enforcement of the Regulations by the Board would no doubt create more employment for Nigerian youths and uphold global best practises in the training and operations of the sector.
The Minister, however, commended the National Association of Professional Divers and other critical stakeholders for their enthusiasm and support during the process of developing and finalising the Diving at Work Regulation.
Earlier in a welcome address, the Permanent Secretary Dr. Yerima Tarfa said the enforcement role of the governing Board is paramount and called for strict compliance with the safety and heath guidelines for increase in productivity and for national development.
In his inaugural speech, the Chief Inspector of Diving, Mr Julius Ugwala congratulated the Diving Industry on the landmark development and thanked the Federal Government for its commitment to making the industry “efficient and globally competitive.”
He said a sustained collaboration between government and critical stakeholders gave birth to the regulations, which would now open up new opportunities for industry growth and the employment of Nigerian youths.
“The inauguration of this Diving Governing Board marks the beginning of the enforcement of the 2018 Diving at Work regulation and it opens up an opportunity to greatly harness and improve the industry, ensure safety of diving personnel and operations as we uphold global best diving practices.
“Stakeholders should recognise the supremacy of the Diving Regulation as they all conduct their activities within the ambit of the law.
“As the Chief Diving Inspector, I am committed to global best practices, safe operations, equity and to the development of the sector in line with the provisions of the regulations. I appreciate the call to serve and the faith, which the government, the sector and my colleagues have shown in me”, he said.
Reacting also to the development, the President of the National Association of Divers (NAPROD), Mr Timothy Dagogo Minima who is also a member of the Board said the industry finally has a chance at growing, adding that NAPROD has been foremost in the campaign for the enforcement of the regulations.
He said indigenous divers had lost their lives and become maimed as a result of poor enforcement of safety standards; as a result, every measure put in place for their safety and advancement is a step in the right direction.
We report that the Permanent Secretary- Dr Yerima Tarfa is Chairman of the Board while Mr Julius Ugwala is the Chief Inspector of Diving.
Members include Mrs Lauretta Adogu , the Director of Factories, Ministry of Labour and employment , Dr Austin Okogun , the representative of the Hyperbaric Medical Practitioners Society, Commodore J.E Ake who will be representing the Nigerian Navy, Captain Sunday Umoren for NIMASA.
Other members are Mr Timothy Dagogo Minima, President of NAPROD, Mr Forcados Agadabiri representing the Petroleum Training Institute (PTI), and Mr George Soberekon Bipiamina of NAPROD.