Few days after President Muhammadu Buhari named Senator Olorunimbe Mamora as the new Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), operators in the sector have tasked him on the need to focus on removing numerous wrecks dotting the nation’s inland waterways.
Reacting, the Chief Executive Officer of TARZAN Boats and President of Association of Tourist Boats and Water Transportation Owners of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) Mr. Ganiu Balogun commended Buhari for appointing Mamora as the new NIWA MD.
He expressed confidence that the new helmsman would perform well in office just like his predecessor, Boss Mustapha who is not Secretary to the State Government (SGF)
Balogun however tasked Mamora to ensure that fuel stations are created at various points on the waterways to ensure easy access to fuel by boat operators. According to him, one of the major challenges of boat operators is access to fuel.
He lamented that most times, his members are harassed by police and other security agencies whenever they try to get fuel in jerry cans for their boats.
Speaking on Mamora's appointment, Ganiu said: "I am sure that the people that appointed him must have seen some qualities in him and that he knows what to do, just like the former MD, boss Mustapha, I met him briefly before he became the SGF and I believe that he knows what he is doing, I believe the people that appointed him are the same people that appointed the new MD"
"All we pray for is for him to be able to perform well and also for God to guide him"
"What I would want him to do is to carry along the operators in the industry whenever he wants to do anything, there are some selfish people that may be giving him wrong advice, so he needs to weigh it properly and choose what is best for the industry, I believe he will succeed".
On fuelling the boats, he said: "The major challenge we have and we have spoken about severally and which is yet to be addressed is the creation of fuel stations on the waterways to make it easy for boat operators to get fuel, the engines do not run on water, we only use water to cool the engine, but we need fuel to run the engine"
"It takes a lot to go and buy fuel on the road with jerry can, thank God that they have relaxed trouble of not buying fuel in jerry cans, if not there is a lot of problem in that area, we face law enforcement agents who sometimes accuse us of doing illegal bunkering, meanwhile some of them know that we cannot but buy fuel in jerry can".
Balogun argued that it is the jurisdiction of the NIWA MD to ensure that fuel stations are provided on the waterways.
He also advised that the new NIWA MD should endeavour to conduct stakeholders’ meeting from time to time to feel the pulse of operators.
According to him, it is the boat operators that know where most of the wrecks are embedded on Nigerian waters channels and they would be glad to point these out.
The ATBOWATON President lamented the feud between NIWA and the Lagos State Government, saying that this has not augured well for boat operators.
He said that both entities need to find a way to work together in order to provide an enabling environment for the operators. According to him, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. He said the Lagos State Government (the son) must respect the will of the father which is NIWA.
According to him, "there are wrecks on the waterways, some have been removed, some are still lying there, this is why he needs to carry operators along, there are some areas that he may not know, even those in operations department may not know it, but those who wear the shoe knows where it pinches"
"We are the ones that know where the wrecks are, whenever we have a high tide, the water will cover some of the wrecks, but those working on the water know where they are"
"NIWA and the Lagos State Government need to find a way to work together in order to provide an enabling environment for the operators, when two elephants fight, the grass suffers. It is true that we have the father and the son, but the son must respect the father", he said.