By Innocent Orok
Sequel to the incessant boat accidents in the Lagos axis of the Nigerian waterways in recent times, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has issued out stringent guidelines for boat operators.
NIWA during a stakeholders meeting in Lagos yesterday addressed by its Managing Director, Dr George Moghalu said henceforth the agency will impound and boat that is not certified or its captain not properly trained for the job.
Others who will also fall to the NIWA hammer are those operators who disobey the 6:30 service stop time, overspending, overlooking and non compliance with the usage of live jacket.
The NIWA boss said he has invited all operators to buy onto the agency’s regulatory guidelines to curb accidents and deaths on our waterways.
On the safety of the waterways, Moghalu said he is talking with some foreign companies in the United Kingdom and Switzerland so they can remove the wrecks and also pay the country.
“In 2020, we have provisions for removal of wrecks because today, it costs money for wrecks to be removed, but we are in talks with some UK based and Switzerland groups that are interested in removing these wrecks, use them for other purposes and then pay NIWA for removing the wrecks.
“Wreck is not a constant thing in the sense that, if you remove wreck on Monday,there is no law that says you won’t remove wreck on Tuesday or Wednesday.
“If you remove wreck at point A, another wreck may show up at point B and I can tell you that since I came to NIWA last year,I know that 2019 procurement made provisions for removal of wrecks and wrecks were removed. At a point, I insisted to come and see the wrecks myself.
“So,we are talking with them and if we can conclude with the discussion, then we can enter an agreement that can be over time. We want to make all our channels safe.
“I am one of those that say that the only way we can decongest our roads is to make our waterways navigable.
Speaking earlier on the spate of accidents on waterways, the he stated that the agency had planned to recertify all boat operators within the waterways to be able to carry out their operations.
The meeting further shade more light on the conflict of interest between NIWA and the Lagos State Government.
It was explained that NIWA has the powers on any body of water that runs from Lagos state and emptied in another State.
While the Lagos state government has powers on any body of water that flows and ends within Lagos state. This according to NIWA is contained in the Nigerian 1999 constitution as amended and was also settled in a Court of Appeal Judgment between Lagos State government and NIWA delivered on the 18th day of July 2017, where jurisdiction of the inland waterways was put under the control of NIWA.