•NIWA, NIMASA explain roles
By Godfrey Bivbere
THE persistent boat accidents that have claimed the lives of several citizens have been blamed on the failure of regulatory agencies to enforce safety measures and control certification of the boat drivers.
This is even as the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, said that it will, henceforth, de-register all indicted boat operators.
Speaking with Vanguard Maritime Report on the development, former General Manager at the Nigerian Ports Authority, NPA, and now a maritime consultant, Chris Borha, said that they should have done more to check the increasing incidences of boat mishap that has cut short the lives of hundreds of water transport users.
Borha noted that there had been several boat accidents in the past and wondered whether there were no investigative panels set up to find out the causes of such mishap. He noted that all the regulatory agencies, both states and federal, should step up their activities and ensure that commuters using water transport are protected, especially now that water transport has begun to catch up.
He further stated the water transport is like that of road and wondered who was responsible for ensuring the safety of the passengers, the certification of the boat drivers as well as the boats.
However, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Sarat Lara Braimah, said the agency can no longer fold its hands and watch some deviant operators and their employees ruin the water transport system, noting that it will go for zero tolerance on boat accidents.
She stated: “We have tried to provide needed enabling environment for the operators including training programmes to expose them to operational standards, yet some have chosen the path of desperation and dangerous behaviour, leading to loss of lives and property.
“Time has also come for passengers to take responsibility, listen and obey boat crew when emergencies or turbulence occur. Sadly, some passengers go into frenzy and panic mood, and trigger off fearful alarm and cause bedlam leading to avoidable deaths.”
She added that the new normal on water transportation will see to detailed take off protocols, pre-boarding checks and physical inspection of use of life jackets and safety talks to adequately prepare the minds of passengers in case of emergency situations. She also informed that unscheduled and random checks of boats to ascertain their seaworthiness will be incorporated into the enforcement strategy.
Reacting to the death of the former industrial training student in the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency, NIMASA, Head Corporate and Strategic Communications, Phillip Kyanet, said: “We at NIMASA are indeed saddened by the death of Zainab in that boat mishap, a former intern with the Agency. It is quite regrettable that it happened.
“The moment the Agency’s attention was drawn to the incident, two top management staff led a delegation to the family to commiserate and empathise with them. The Agency was involved in arrangements leading to her final interment. Prior to this unfortunate incident, the Agency had met with NIWA and LASWA to discuss more collaborative ways towards a safer and more secure maritime domain.”