What can NIWA do to reduce boat mishaps?

Owolabi Omotayo (Water Transporter)

NIWA has done a lot and still doing more to sensitize all the stakeholders which include the boat operators, waterways passengers, among others on the need to adhere to strict waterways safety rules and regulations.

The efforts by NIWA have so far reduced to a significant level the frequency of boat accidents on our waterways.

Another important thing the NIWA needs to do now and very urgent is to ensure that the emergency and non-compliance reporting phone numbers are conspicuously displayed at all jetties for the general public usage to report and even video report any abnormal events at the jetties and on the waterways.

Most importantly, the boat operators really need comprehensive on-the-job training and re-training, even if it requires the regulatory bodies including NIWA to bring the boat driving training schools so close to the jetties, this would help to achieve positive results on waterways safety. This is necessary due to the complaints from boat operators, they are unable to access the training schools as presently constituted.

 Ademola Irinyemi (Former Registrar of IFFN)

Permit me to begin by saying that accidents cannot be stopped, but can be reduced, NIWA should come up with stricter regulations to be adhered to by operators. Where there is no law, there's no offence. But where there is law, there is offence. In other words, violators should be punished. The following must be implemented by NIWA in order to reduce boat accidents; speed limits should be introduced on the waterways; seaworthiness of boats should not be taken lightly; restrictions should be created with proper guide on the operators. Surveillance and regular monitoring should be done on our waterways. NIWA should run enlightening talks to re-orientate the operators on many issues that will help for accident free movement on the waterways. They should collaborate with the security agencies to assist in effective monitoring of the waterways. Sea training must be a major task of the agency  particularly for the operators. Also, licensing and other necessary exercise must be done before operating.

 

Friday Essien (Water Transporter)

NIWA can reduce waterways accidents if the transportation code is gazetted and implemented. The essence of the code is to regulate traffic on waterways. As soon as the code is gazetted, critical issues of safety, overloading and over-speeding, use of life jackets and so on will be contained. Also,  NIWA should have a steady monitoring team that would ensure safety standards which include compulsory use of life jackets while on the waters as well as discouraging night voyages.

Godspower Ilo (Boat Passenger)

I believe the key is for NIWA to engage in continuous sensitization and training, some of these boat operators sometimes display over confidence while on the voyage, some of them must have been drinking alcohol which could make him lose focus, there should be sensitization and an accurate monitoring team by NIWA constantly patrolling. Also, some of the drinking joints erected around the jetties, especially at Liverpool jetty should be pulled down, it encourages boat operators to drink and drive. The drivers must also avoid overloading of passengers and night travels. Persons without concrete evidence of certified training to operate boats and other passenger crafts should not be allowed to operate.

 

Paul Ndibe (Acting Executive Director, CILT) 

Two things are involved, one is standardizing the boats, and luckily the Lagos State Government has just held its public presentation of their grand transport policy. So, in the cause of drawing their transport policy, if they can standardize the sizes and designs of the boats to be used for commercial transportation on our waterways, this would help. Standardizing it will ensure that people have enough passenger space to ensure that they do not overload, some of these mishaps arise when there is overload and when there is wave, the weight of the boat will be one-sided.  The people that operate these boats, how experienced are they in terms of licensing and all that. So, there must be enforcement in terms of the level of training and skill. The other one is the state of mind of those operating these boats, if you are under any influence of, say alcohol; you are likely to endanger the lives of these passengers. So there must be a licensing regime where they have to check the state of mind of the operators and it will be part of their licensing and then have enough monitoring were everybody on the boat must wear a life jacket.

Emmanuel Nwagbara (Maritime Lawyer) 

I think the regulatory authorities would not just stop at churning out safety regulations; they should go a step further by enforcing those safety regulations. If you notice in most cases, the number of persons that will board a boat is usually exceeded, particularly during night time and this is because the officers who are in charge of enforcement by this hour of the evening had either relaxed the rules or were   not on hand to enforce the safety rules. As a result, the operators of the boats relax the rules and safety measures; they take risks which include overloading their boats and not ensuring that even the safety jackets are in place. 

Alhaji Abudllahi Inuwa (NARTO) 

I think NIWA has a big responsibility and likewise the operators in the area of training, the operator’s sensitization of passengers is also very important. Another issue is that there are some wrecks in the waters that are abandoned. It is very important and urgent for these wrecks to be removed out of the waterways. And again the safety jacket, what type of jacket do they wear? They also have to monitor them at night and give them time frame in which they are not allowed to ply beyond the given time. I believe we have marine police and also Navy on the waters on the link where they are passing.

Rev Nicodemus Odollo (Shipper)

There should be strict regulations, the waterways have to be regulated, the issue of life jacket has to be enforced, and their take-off and landing should be regulated. The regulatory authority should be monitoring every boat; in case of any mishap there should be point of rescue within few minutes. These are what we don’t have, just the way we have police checkpoints on the road, for rescue on the marine, there should be something like that. They should also certify the capacity of the boats and the engine of the boat should also be certified.

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