STORIES By GODFREY BIVBERE
The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, has said that passengers are scared of traveling by water because they are not sure of the condition of the boats and ferries plying the nation’s waterways.
Disclosing this in Lagos at a meeting with operators in the water transportation business in its office in Lagos, Muazu Sanbo, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, said that the Authority will soon put in place measures to ensure that all safety requirements are met by operators in the sector.
Among the measures to be put in place are compulsory operators’ permits, survey certificate of all water craft to ply the waterways, use of manifest by all operators and compulsory certificate of competence for all captains driving water craft on the waterways. Sambo said all operators must obtain their permits, survey certificates as well as stickers in the next three months or face sanction which may include stopping such offending firm from operating.
He also noted that the Authority has printed manifest which were shared to the operators to use before every firm would start printing for themselves. The Area Manager pointed out that NIWA decision to print the manifest is to ensure that there is uniformity in the document used by all operators. He also said that the advantage of operators insisting on passengers writing their names on the manifest is that it comes handy for insurance claims in case of accident, as well as serving as a source of information on all the passengers on a particular trip.
On the drivers’ permit to be gotten from the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Sambo said that all boat operators are expected to get theirs before the end of the year.
The NIWA boss also disclosed that they have established a safety compliance team that will be paying unscheduled visits to all the jetties to ensure that they are observing all the laws governing water transportation.
The time frame for the implementation of the measures to be enforced by the Authority, were agreed upon by both management staff of the NIWA Area office and representatives of the various firms operating in the sector in the Lagos area.
According to him, “We are worried about boat mishap on our waterways and our responsibility is to find out the human causes and ensure that it does not happen again. When this is done and it still happens, then it is an act of God.
“We are worried and we know that you are worried too.”
He stressed the need for partnership to ensure that the incessant boat mishap is curbed or reduced to the barest minimum, he concluded.