The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, has commenced moves to reduce the rate of boat accidents across the country with a view to making water transport a preferred mode of transportation in Nigeria.
The agency also said that it will sanction owners of rickety boats and enforce the laws on boats that are not compliant to safety standards.
Speaking to newsmen, on the sideline of the just concluded 2019 stakeholders appreciation night hosted by the Nigerian Shippers Council, NSC, Managing Director of NIWA, Mr. George Moghalu, said that some of the plans the agency has put in place to stem the tide of accidents on the waterways includes educating the public on the safe use of water transports.
Moghalu also disclosed that the agency has engaged a consultant that will provide standard life vests and jackets at all NIWA locations across the country adding that lack of knowledge has exposed a lot of people to various forms of accidents on the waterways.
He stated: “We have plans to reduce the rate of accidents on the waterways; We are talking with a group particularly on the issue of live vest because you find that lack of knowledge, exposure and education has made a lot of people to abandon best practices with regards to water transport.
“There are basic things that must be done to ensure that our waterways are safe and we are doing that now, we are talking with the various groups and bring to the knowledge of everybody best practices when it has to do with water transport. We are entering into an understanding with an organization that will provide life vest at all NIWA locations across the country so that people can rent for their.
“Even private boat owners, we are creating the enabling environment for them for us to meet, we have met with some stakeholders before now and we are going to meet them again.”
On the issue of right of way on the waters, Moghalu told newsmen that there is a limitation in the right of way for NIWA just as there are also limitations for states’ right of way on the waters adding that the agency will further engage the Lagos State Government on the issue.
He stated: “We are going to engage further because as far as we are concern, we are on the right track, we do not want to quarrel with anybody but we must do what we are supposed to do. We want to add value to what I met on ground, so anybody that wants to help us to do what we are supposed to do, we are willing to partner with any who desirous of improving the waterways.
“We are engaging the boat operators and we are going to enforce the law as it concerns the quality of boats, we have to insist on standards and any one that we think is not of the right quality and standard we will make that sure that it is not on our waterway.”
On the wreck removal function, Moghalu said that its function to remove wrecks is limited to the internal waterways adding that every agency understands their own limit because the laws are clear on the responsibility of each government agency.