The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on Wednesday denied allegations that it padded its 2020 budget with N4 billion worth of fraudulent and non-existent projects.

Certainly disturbed and worried by the incessant but avoidable boat accidents on the Lagos waterways, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has warned that it would henceforth deregister and withdraw the operational license of any indicted operator involved in any boat mishap due to flouting of operational rules and guidance.

In a statement signed on Sunday by the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engineer Sarat Braimah, the agency explained that it will also prosecute and ensure the withdrawal of the certificate of any boat captain including other stringent measures to force back sanity in the operation of water transportation services in the state.

Engineer Braimah stated that the regulatory agency can no longer fold its hands and watch some deviant operators and their employees run the business aground.

“We have tried to provide needed enabling environment for the operators, including training programmes to expose stakeholders to operational standards, yet some have chosen the part of desperation and dangerous behaviour, leading to loss of lives and property” explained the NIWA Lagos Area Manager.

Engineer Sarat Braimah further stated that the authority’s patience with the unrepentant operators has been overstretched, and hinted of a new agenda of enforcement devoid of plea and forgiveness.

She also disclosed that pre-boarding formalities targeted at passengers awareness will now form part of the enforcement regime to help stabilize and encourage first-timers and those afraid of water transportation to adhere to safety measures, particularly during turbulence on the waterways.

“Time has also come for passengers to take responsibility, listen and obey boat crew when emergencies or turbulence occurs.

Sadly, some passengers go into a frenzy and panic mood, triggering off the fearful alarm and causing bedlam, leading to avoidable deaths.

“The new normal on water transportation will henceforth see to detailed take-off protocols, pre-boarding checks and physical inspection of use of life jackets and safety talks to adequately prepare the minds of passengers in case of emergency situations,” Engineer Braimah added.

She also informed that unscheduled and random checks of boats to ascertain their seaworthiness will incorporate the enforcement strategy.

“The new dawn will be implemented to the letter with passengers addressed in English, Pidgin English, and the three major dialects, Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa before take-off, all targeted to ensuring that passengers take responsibility and cooperate with boat crew to ensure a successful and incident-free voyage

“We are going to step up our awareness program for stakeholders in this month of August and beyond. We are determined to arrest this situation, and hereby enjoin all hands to be on the deck,” the NIWA Area Manager stated.

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