BOAT MISHAPS: Lagos NIWA Caution Operators, to Enforce Speedometers, Bouys on Boats

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By Innocent Orok

To enforce safety on Nigerian waterways transportation and reduced mishaps, the National Inland Waterways Authority ( NIWA) will introduce speedometers , Bouys and Life Guard onboard passenger boats to prevent loss of lives.

Worried by the recent boat mishaps in Lagos waterways , the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. ( Dr) Sarat Braimah in a stakeholders engagement on Wednesday, warned that the agency will no longer tolerate avoidable boat accidents which are mostly cause by human errors.

The furious, but sobber Area Manager said operators cannot be making money at the expense of lives, neither should anybody or organization play politics with human lives.

Engr. Braimah revealed that over 75% of passenger boats on Lagos waterways are not seaworthy and said henceforth NIWA will not allow rickety boats and uncertified captains to ply any boat. She further rolls out new conditions for boat operators to meet or forget about ferry business.

“What NIWA wants to do now is to sanitise those boat operators. We cannot wait until accident happen again and from these two major accidents that happened this year, we have been able to analyse our investigations and we discovered that it was due to human errors.

“What I mean by human error is down to the maintenance of these boats. Most times, boat engines will go off mid-stream because the speed the boat captains need, they won’t get it on the channel. So they will now move out of the channel to go to the shallow area so that they can maintain speed.

“As I speak to you, our Marine Unit is now in Ikorodu. I have placed embargo on boat movement in Ikorodu except those certified. Yesterday, we certified 10 boats, and only those 10 boats will be the ones to operate for now,” she said.

For other boats, she hinted that NIWA has instructed the operators to bring them down to the office here at the Marina, adding that NIWA officials are not even going to Ikorodu to do the inspection.

“Most of the boats, what they have is single hull and these single hull boats cannot withstand stress. Any single hit on the waterways, they will tumble. This is why some of them will hit a little pipe l on the waterways and will tumble. I have been inside a boat where we hit a wreck, the boat did not capsize because it has double hull.

“Majorly, we have to scrap these boats. 75% of them are not seaworthy. The time they bought it, registered them, maintaining them, even the maintenance has dropped and their life span too has dropped. So we want to know if it is 20 boats that are fit to operate from Ikorodu and Ibeshe jetty, let it be so. If it is 20 in Ebute, let it be so and others .

“The owners of the jetty are also part of the problem because they know that the lesser the number of boats, the lesser the money they make. But we don’t care about how much a jetty makes. If it’s just 10 boats that are certified and fit, let them pay for jetty use. I’m not targeting anybody, we are just after safety.

“So going forward, we have made some things mandatory for boat operators. Firstly, every boat must have speedometer, it will allow passengers inside the boat to know whether the pilot is over speeding or not.

“Secondly, every passenger boats must have life bouys on the boat. If there is an incident mid-stream, they will throw life bouys around for people to hold for safety. Four people can hold one. If you have three on a boat, that will save 12 people. Passengers have life jackets, but they usually off it immediately they get inside the boat. At least, if that life bouy is there and they throw it out, they will hold on to it to stay afloat. So it is the best way to save people on water,” she explained.

And finally, she noted that every passenger boat will also have a Life Guard who can swim in case of accident.
According to her, Life Guards are divers, they can quickly jump inside water and save people, adding that It will be first response before rescue team will get there.

She also informed that NIWA is about to procure a technology called BlueMe. “Each driver on-board will be given one. If they press it, it will give signal about their location to everybody. It operates anywhere and it doesn’t have network issue and it will give us location of the boats in times of emergencies.

“We have gotten the sample and we have tested it at Badagry. These are precautions we are putting in place for water transportation safety,” She said.

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