By Godwin Oritse
Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, has warned ferry operators and users of ferry services against traveling by water at night.
The authority said: “The ban on night travel is for safety reason. Most boats do not have light and the waterways are not well lighted.”
In an interview with Vanguard, LASWA’s Managing Director, Mr. Yinka Marihno, said that the ban on night travel is still very much in force and that any operator caught violating the ban would be severely dealt with.
He stated that because of the poor lightings in the waterways, it is impossible to navigate properly, adding that the ban has been moved from 6p.m. to 7p.m. so as to allow people who use the waterways to get back home in good time.
He disclosed that there have been accidents associated with night travels on the waters and lives have also been lost as a result night travels.
According to him, “there have been one or two accidents associated with night travels. I read a report, about a month ago, where eight people traveling on boat at night died when the boat ran into trouble around the Badagry area.
“Most of them were not even wearing life vest and this accident occurred at about 8p.m. on the day of the accident.”
On whether any arrest of night boat operators has been made, Marihno said what the agency does is to send such boat back to the jetty and ensure that the passengers disembark from the boat.
He explained that to make the ban more effective, the agency ensures that jetties in Lagos State are closed by 7p.m.
He also stated that plans have also been concluded to sanction any commercial boat operator violating the ban on night travel by water.
He said: “It is hard to see any one violating the ban because most jetties are closed by 7p.m. From August when I joined the agency, I have not been able to arrest any one but we keep reminding them of the ban and the presence of water guards at the jetties in on a 24-hour basis.
“We have water guards that dive, swim, and ensure that people wear their life vest. This is, sometimes, a struggle because people are still very stubborn about wearing life vest and it is amazing that the most stubborn ones are the ones that do not know to swim.”
The authority’s boss further disclosed that most of the jetties conceded to LASWA by the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, are currently under going renovation by the state government.
Marihno said that LASWA has a healthy working relationship with NIWA.He added that both organisations are working towards achieving the same purpose of safer, cleaner and more secured water transport system in Nigeria.