- Begins seizure of substandard boats, life-jackets in Lagos
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has confirmed that a boat mishap occured at Shiroro Local Government Area in Niger State on Saturday, July 23rd, 2022.
The Authority revealed this in a press statement signed by the General Manager, Corporate Communications, Mr. Jibril Darda’u and disseminated yesterday.
Part of the statement read; “It is deeply saddening for us at the National Inland Waterways Authority to once again condole with the government and people of Niger State, on the recent boat mishap which occurred at Shiroro Local Govt Area on Saturday 23rd July, 2022.”
“We are all the more saddened because of the efforts we have put in place to ensure that basic safety guidelines and regulations are adhered to by boat drivers. Despite this, however, boat drivers and operators still sail in bad weather; overload their boats and oftentimes do not even wear life jackets for their own safety!”
The Authority warned that unless operators and passengers alike buy into the imperative of safety on the waterways, no amount of enforcement or compulsion on the part of regulatory bodies would effect the desired results.
“While we regret the loss of lives and pray for the repose of the souls of the dead, the Authority will continue to enforce compliance with safety rules and regulations and employ other measures to achieve safe waterways for all,” the statement added.
In another development, the NIWA Lagos Area Management is expected to start a campaign of seizing substandard boats and life-jackets across various jetties this week.
The Lagos Area Manager, Engr. Sarat Braimah revealed this while engaging journalists after sensitization visits to some riverine communities last week, even as she stressed that the seized items will be burnt.
Her words: “It is very important that we phase out these substandard boats as well as life-jackets. However, there shouldn’t be a vacuum because most of these riverine areas are only accessible via the waterways. We should be able to bring 4-5 ferries here to be able to stop them from using the current boats. We don’t want a situation that would have devastating effects on their movement and lifestyle.”
Noting that NIWA can’t transform the nation’s waterway system on its own, Braimah encouraged more private investors to develop interest in boat operations and partner the State in sanitizing the operation.
“We want to partner with Lagos State Government especially the LagFerry. I’ll discuss with the Managing Director of LagFerry so he could deploy some of their boats, especially in Ibeshe because it’s obvious that they don’t have good boats. They are worried because this is the only means of transportation they have.”
“At Sagbo Koji, some operators complain that the women return late from trade but their boats don’t have navigational aids to operate at night. The kind of boats they have shouldn’t move at night. NIWA has a boat that could be used for that route. Sometime ago, NIWA boats were actually plying that route to Sagbo Koji but they rioted that we were taking their livelihood because most of the residents carry-out boat ferry business. They argued that if NIWA continues to do boat operations we would be robbing them of their most practiced business; so we stopped.”