By Innocent Orok
The National Inland Waterways Authority ( NIWA) in it’s efforts to curb boat mishaps in Nigerian waterways has launched three patrol boats in Lagos State on Thursday. The Authority has also set up a Taskforce to monitor activities in Nigerian waterways and will kick-start training for boat Operators in October.
Speaking during the event, Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu explained that the agency has procured a total of 20 patrol boats which has so far been distributed to other Area Offices and now deploy three for the Lagos brown waterways.
Moghalu said, “We have procured 20 patrol boats for all the nations inland waterways. We will be procuring more as the demand arises, but for now, we have twenty patrol boats and we have decided to deploy three of the boats for the Lagos inland waterways.We have also inaugurated a Task force that will man these boats. The responsibility of these patrol boats is to ensure compliance on the Lagos inland waterways by boat operators.
“One of our headaches is the penchant by operators to overload boats. Many of the accidents that have claimed lives on our inland waterways has been known to be overloading issues.
“Another problem we encounter on the waterways is the refusal to wear Life Jackets by passengers during ferry services by boat operators.It will be the responsibility of these Task Force to ensure compliance on our waterways henceforth. The three patrol boats will comb the Lagos inland waterways on a 24hrs basis to apprehend operators who default on these safety rules. Anybody caught flouting these safety regulations will be arrested henceforth.
“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and other government agencies. We will continue to look forward to collaborating with sister agencies to ensure that water transportation is safe and efficient
“Another issue that has been bothering us has to do with night boat trips. Our directive is clear, boats should not ply the waterways once it’s 6:30 pm in the evening. Many of the boat mishaps have occured at night. Our patrol boats will be combing the waterways in the evening to apprehend those defaulting on this directive.”
On activities of fishermen and Dredgers whose operation constitute a threat to the safe navigation of the inland waterways in Lagos, the NIWA helmsman explained that the agency’s Lagos Area Office will be meeting with fishermen and Dredgers to let them know why they need to work with caution.
While speaking on the e-registration, General Manager ,Marine NIWA ,Engineer Joseph Ororo said the online platform for boat registration will open in January 2022 and will be used for renewal of license, alert on expiration of license and would bring about less human contact in the workability process adding that it gives room for easy renewal of licenses.
Engr. Ororo affirmed that NIWA has mandate to renew and to register boat operators within the inland waterways , pointing out that marine operations is not an comers affairs.
On training and capacity building, Engr. Ororo noted that manpower development would be extended to tugboat operators stressing that NIWA would soon introduced inland transport code,which is currently under the Ministry of Justice for proper legal framework.
Earlier in her speech, the Lagos Area Manager, Engineer Sarat Braimah appreciated the NIWA, MD for the support giving thus far for the Lagos office of the agency. She added that with the patrol boats will be deployed to the Lagos waterways as part of effort to maintain sanity, orderliness and control of operations.
She further added that the Taskforce comprises of members from the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) and Association of Tourists Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) and that the training of personnel will commence in October.