The Seafarers branch of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), Sea Coach Ferry Services Nigeria Limited and many stakeholders have fingered lack of funds for acquisition of new boats as well as lack of manpower development as major areas the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Muoghalu should pay more attention to.
The chairman seafarers’ branch of MWUN, Comrade Francis Bruno and the Managing Director of Sea Coach Ferry Services, Professor, Dayo Otitoloju, said this in a chat with Shipping Position Daily recently in Lagos.
Comrade Bruno, accused some government agencies in the maritime sector of only helping in the collection of revenues for the government without paying any attention to manpower development in the sector.
“You are just doing all these for the government to make money and not to develop manpower in the waterways. NIMASA was created to ensure that there is manpower development, but at the end of the day, we only notice that they collect revenue for the government”, he said.
Explaining further, he said many government agencies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria on how to collect revenue on the waterways without caring about members’ welfare.
“Many state governments are signing MoU with us on how to collect revenue from the waterways and you will still come and impose the same revenue, but those people who are working here to generate the money, how do you take care of them. The trade union who the law gives the power to see the affairs of the industry is not always involved”, he lamented.
He also alleged that there is no presence of NIWA in some waterways. “In my place in Delta state we don’t have any NIWA presence there, even in Lagos here. All these things we are saying, do we carry people along”
Also speaking, the Managing Director of Sea Coach Ferry Services, Professor, Dayo Otitoloju opined that for the sector to thrive, there is need for revolving fund for boat acquisition.
“We have always proposed that for this industry to really thrive, there is a need for revolving fund for acquisition of boats by the operators. And we know that if this should happen, definitely business will boom all over the area offices, not just the Lagos state”
He reiterated that the major problem for people wanting to go into the business is lack of capital, even as he urged his members to improve on the safety of boats on the waterways.
“Particularly in Lagos state, I am sure they are all ready but I also believe that this will also have a major influence all over; where the major problem for people wanting to go into the industry is that they cannot afford a good and safe boat, so they really want you to look at this”
“We believe that the area of safety that is being talked about is an area that can be improved on, and we are already encouraging our members to improve on this. I am sure that the institution of the safety office in NIWA will also help to address this” he concluded