BOAT MISHAPS: NIWA Insist on Licensing Boat Captains, as Operators Seek Funding from CVFF

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Munirudeen Oyebamiji, MD, NIWA

By Innocent Orok

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has insisted that all boat captains operating in Nigerian Waterways have to be trained and obtain operating license before doing business in Nigerian Waterways.

Speaking at a stakeholders meeting comprising of boat captains, owners and operators, on Saturday, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. Sarat Braimah reemphasize the importance of training and licensing of operators in order to curb the incessant boat mishaps in the country, especially Lagos waterways.

Group picture of stakeholders with Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Engr. Sarat Briamah and other NIWA staff after the meeting on Saturday.

Saturday’s engagement was for Boat Captains and operators plying Liverpool, Tin Can Island, Ijegun and Badagry routes which make up the Zone A axis of the Lagos waterways.

In her opening remarks Engr. Sarat Braimah, who spoke on behalf of the Managing Director of NIWA, Munirudeen Bola Oyebamiji urged all present to see the day’s engagement as a free and frank discussion to find lasting solution and reasons boat mishaps persist on Lagos waterways despite all measures the agency has put in place to curtail it.

“Today is not a day to blame anybody, but a time to open up on reasons for frequent boat accidents,” she said.

“Training, training, training is compulsory. I know it’s difficult to get money in Nigeria today. But you must suffer yourself and struggle to pay to get the training. Please starve yourself to get trained. If you don’t have your boat captain’s licence, you can’t be on the waterways.”

She emphasized that training would have exposed the boat captains to know when and how to move to the shore or the implications of boats competing for speed especially in a marine environment fraught with uncertainties.

Responding, the boat Operators complain of meagre payments that cannot sustain them. They also requested NIWA to reduce the fees for training to enable them afford it.

Corroborating Engr Braimah’s stand, Saka Stephen, a boat captain, confirmed that training very important as it offers needed skills in navigation, weather reading, how to mount ropes, among other skills. Training, Stephen emphasized, cannot be compromised.

Meanwhile, boat operators have appeal to the Minister of Marine and Blue Economy Adegboyega Oyetola to assist boat operators to benefit from the Cabotage Vessels Financing Fund ( CVFF). The loan according to them will help them to purchase new boats , which cost between N6m to N8m.

The boat operators opined that if such good gesture is extended to them, it will boost waterways transportation and increase safety in waterways . They cried that most of the boats used now are old and warn out fibre boats , which are prone to accidents as operators cannot afford to buy new boats due to the high cost .

Engr. Sarat Braimah also implored boat captains and drivers to promptly report to NIWA the presence of wrecks, dredgers, pipes or any obstacle that could cause danger to safety on the channels for necessary action.

She plead with boat captains to go for the training which has a grace period of three mouths, saying they can pay installmentally and that all captains must obtain their license or seized to operate in Nigerian Waterways.

Help and emergency phone lines dedicated for information was issued out to operators to contact whenever the need arises.

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