By Ifeyinwa Obi
LOKOJA â€” Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said it would commence the registration and licensing of boat operators in Kogi State.
At least no fewer than 182 boat operators were operating without licences on River Niger in Lokoja alone. It was also discovered that no fewer than 2,000 boat passengers were exposed to danger on the water way as boat operators carry more than the capacity of their boats.
For instance, boats designed for 14 passengers were carrying between 25 and 30 in a voyage.
The shock discovery was made during the awareness campaign for safety of life and prevention of pollution in waterway transportation by the agency and its consultant, Abhal Ventures Limited.
Although the boat operators led by Comrade Bala Yusuf told the NIMASA team that they were registered with the Nigerian Inland Waterway Authority, the agency said they must be licensed by NIMASA.
Already, some of the operators have been summoned by the agency for overloading.
Besides, the NIMASA team led by Mr Dejo Taiwo, an assistant director, Maritime Safety told the operators using the Ganaja waterside to wear life jacket, adding that the law requires them to be surveyed annually.
Taiwo said: â€œIt is an offence to send a boat not surveyed or licensed to the river or sea.â€