By Godwin Oritse with agency reports
Over 400 residents of nine riverine communities of Amuwo Odofin Local Government, Lagos State are at risk over the use of substandard lifejackets provided by boat operators in the area.
This is despite repeated warnings by the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) to boat operators to ensure provision of standard life jackets to passengers.
Residents of the communities which include Tomaro, Araromi, Chiku, Agala, Ito Agan, Sagbokoji, Agala, Ikoata and Ifako told newsmen that no fewer than 15 boat operators serve the nine communities.
According to the latest edition of Ships and Ports, each of the boat can convey up to 15 passengers per trip.
Some of the residents in the affected communities around the Apapa area, lamented that life jackets provided by the boat operators are of poor quality, which they said can hardly keep a person afloat in the event of a mishap.
The residents appealed to government to assist them by donating standard quality life jackets, especially for the use of school children who are set to resume school next week.
The residents also appealed to the Lagos State government to provide their communities with modern jetties and other basic infrastructure.
One of the residents, Titus Ayewalehimi, said that there have been a few boats accidents in the area when water waves caused by big vessels pushed wooden boats plying the area against rocks, resulting in loss of lives.
Chairman of the boat drivers association in the area, Adeniyi Daramola, however, claimed they always provided safety jackets but admitted that the standard of the jackets was based on what the operators could afford.
“It is a law in water transportation that any boat conveying people to their destinations, its operators must provide life jackets which we have been doing. There are some life jackets that are sold for N1500, N2000 and N2500. So we do it based on what we can afford.
“But even if you have life jackets and you don’t know how to wear it, you can get drowned with it. We have to tell the people the importance of it and if they use it well, it will save life. But no matter how it is, whether it is expensive or not, if you don’t know how to use it, what will happen will happen,” Daramola said.
He appealed to the government to provide funds to enable the boat operators acquire better crafts to boost their operation.