BY INNOCENT OROK
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said it will charge a boat operator in the Lagos area to court for non usage of life jackets by his passengers, who were school children.
NIWA on the 28th of March 2019 said it has impounded a boat conveying School Children along the Lagos waterways without life jackets or any means of safety in the boat.
According to a press statement by NIWA’s Corporate Affairs General Manager, Tayo Fadile, the boat was conveying school children of Government Secondary school, Takwa Bay to Osborne in Lagos Island for an event.
The release reads “In the morning of Thursday 28th March 2019, management of National Inland Waterways Authority on a control inspection accosted a private passenger boat on the Lagos lagoon. The boat was conveying school children of the Government Secondary School, Tarkwa Bay, to Osborne for a Schools event. The route is one of busiest.
“Most shockingly, none of the children wore a life jacket on that open boat.
A standard approved life jacket is an essential requirement for water transportation and its use is mandatory, for it is the only tool that helps to ensure the survival of lives in the unfortunate event of a mishap.
“What is more, nobody can rule out the possibility of a mishap occurring on any trip at any given time, as a result of several factors that may be beyond human control”.
The statement reiterate that National Inland Waterways Authority places a very high premium on the safety of lives on water. The Authority had only recently toured all passenger jetties in Lagos on sensitization campaign on safety, with particular emphasis on the use of life jackets, amongst other requirements.
“We view this incident as a gross travesty of this campaign, which consequences could have been the avoidable loss of precious young Nigerian lives.
Consequently, the Operator and Driver of the impounded boat would be charged to Court under extant laws, so as to serve as a severe deterrent to other operators in the industry. We have lost so many lives from boat mishaps that every necessary step must be taken to protect further loss of lives on our waterways.
National inland waterways will not relent in efforts to monitor the activities on the island waterways with routine and control inspections. We will seek maximum lawful penalties for those who violate safety measures on the waterways.
We wish to use this medium to solicit the support of all Nigerians and in particular, stakeholders in the water transportation sub-sector and the media to support the Authority in its campaign towards safety on our waterways”. The statement concludes.