The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has called on passengers and boat operators alike to take a step further to own safety on the nation’s waterways saying that ownership of safety on waterways is very critical.
The Managing Director of NIWA, Senator Adeleke Olorunnimbe Mamora who made this call in Lagos yesterday while commissioning a refurbished boat Ambulance said that both the operators, the passengers and indeed everyone has to own safety by ensuring that they do what they ought to do either as passengers, as operators or even as observers.
Mamora stated that “Ownership of safety on waterways is very critical; it is for passengers, operators and everybody”, even as he urged them not to keep information in terms of what they expect to see as it affects safety of waterways while begging them to spread the good news.
He noted that accidents do happen but was quick to add that what was important was for one to be ready so as not to be caught napping adding that even when it happens, there are facilities on ground to cope hence the essence of having its Boat Ambulance.
The NIWA boss observed that several boat mishaps recorded recently in Lagos, Makurdi, Kwara and so on happened as a result of non-compliance with the inland waterways transportation code saying that what the authority had established from those accidents was the urgency for them to do more of sensitization, more of education and more of safety awareness campaigns eve as he assured that they were putting the logistics in place to ensure that do do this all over the country using the zonal structures as they aim for accident free waterways transportation.
In his words,” When I say non-compliance, they are things we expect to be in place that is in terms of what the operators need to do, in terms of what the passengers need to do. For example, we discover that overloading is a major issue, when a boat is supposed to carry maybe twenty passengers is carrying fifty passengers. Even the manner of sitting in the boat is also important. The sitting of the passengers is supposed to be balanced so that you don’t have excessive weight on one side of the boat which is very important.
“Of course, the issue of wearing of life jackets, it is important and then what we have discovered is that in some of the cases, we have fake life jackets. So, one of the things we are trying to do is to standardize and ensure that the life jackets being used are such that are NIWA certified so that people will not just be using life jackets that will not achieve what it was meant to achieve.
“We plead with our people particularly the passengers and the operators, don’t sail in the night but again, we discover that often times, people would rather go out at very odd hours at 10.00pm or 11.00pm when the limit is 6.00pm”.
He continued, “Again, we ask our people that there is need to also have manifest, let us know who are on the boat at given point in time from the point of takeoff to destination so that God forbid, when there is anything, you will be able to look at it. But we discover that often times, it is in the aircraft that we seem to pay more attention in this aspect of manifest but we need to even on the waterways so that we can know who is taking off from which end and to which destination.
“We have our men doing patrol; of course, I must acknowledge that there is issue of manpower shortage, there is issue of shortage even in terms of logistics like patrol boat and all that. These are the challenges but we are not finding excuses, these challenges are supposed to be surmounted and that is why we are here and I am assuring this audience that we will do our best to ensure that we surmount these challenges.
“Of course, there are other issues on the waterways, of course, wrecks, derelicts even water weeds and all that which tends to reduce the space within which vessels can maneuver. We know these things but I am assuring this audience and all waterways users that we will do everything possible to limit or reduce these challenges that we have”.
On the Boat ambulance being commissioned, he said,” we have before us this Boat Ambulance and just looking at it from here, it looks good and I believe it has all the facilities that should be inside, that I will confirm when I go inside but I can assure you that we will get more of this so that it is just to let you know that we are listening, we are also trying to do our best and we are seeking the cooperation of everyone because safety issue ought to be owned by everyone”.
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