By Kenneth Jukpor
Following incessant boat mishaps recorded across the nation with scores dead in the last one month, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) is poised to tighten safety regulatory protocols.
The Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu stressed this yesterday at the NIWA Lagos Area Office, while addressing various categories of operators involved with activities on the nation’s waterways.
According to him, over five avoidable boat accidents have occured in the last one month across the nation which underscore the negligence on the part of operators in line with NIWA guidelines.
His words: “We are going to enforce drastically all safety regulations for operations on the waterways. We are going to recertify all vessels and retrain all boat captains. NIWA would also impound all vessels that aren’t worthy to be on the waterways.”
“Every life lost on the waterways is a huge loss to the nation and the sector, because it sends a wrong signal about boat operators and activities on the inland waterways. Speed limit must be observed henceforth and NIWA would commence rigorous patrol on the waterways.”
He, however, opined that the buy in of boat operators, jetty owners and other stakeholders was pertinent, stating that they must work in unison to achieve safer operations on the waterways.
He pointed out that most of the vessels in the country aren’t designed for night navigation and the captains aren’t known and certified.
“Most of these accidents occured at night and they didn’t take off from NIWA jetties. This shows that compliance isn’t in doubt at NIWA jetties and certified operators. Our random checks would also include visit to boat yards.” Moghalu said.
The NIWA Managing Director also encouraged the Area Managers to create an environment for frequent engagement with stakeholders.
Also speaking at the event, the Lagos Manager, Legal, NIWA, Mr. Adejare Kembi explained that there should be no rift resulting from duplication of charges by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Speaking on legal issues, he pointed out that inland waterways were on the exclusive list and navigable waters which are international or interstate should have their dues paid to NIWA; while intrastate waters in Lagos should have dues paid to Lagos State government via LASWA.
However, the General Manager, Legal, NIWA, Mr. Danladi Ibrahim stressed that there was no such waterbody which originates and terminates in Lagos.