The Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) has extended its commendations to the Minister of Marine and Blue economy, Mr Adegboyega Oyetola for the newly appointed Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Munirudeen Oyebamiji.
While praising Mr. Oyebamiji’s appointment, the association emphasizes the importance of giving priority to indigenous boat operators and their welfare in Nigeria’s water transportation industry.
In the statement, ATBOWATON; a prominent private sector association with a wide-reaching presence across 28 coastal states in Nigeria, expressed its belief that the appointment was timely and will provide stability to NIWA, the country’s apex brown water regulatory agency while ensuring sustainable growth and safety measures on waterways transportation ecosystem in the country.
The National President of ATBOWATON, Alhaji Gani Tarzan Balogun, however called on the new NIWA Managing Director to lead a renewed lease of life for indigenous boat operators, particularly by focusing on training and retraining, safety awareness, and opportunities for funding to acquire operational spare parts and watercraft for its members.
Additionally, Alhaji Balogun urged the new NIWA Managing Director to reevaluate the developmental objectives and expectations of NIWA, establish and maintain strategic growth targets, and create an environment conducive to robust private sector participation and visibility in water transportation, maritime tourism, and waterways dredging throughout the country.
While pledging the association’s support for the new NIWA leadership, the National President of ATBOWATON appealed to the new MD to take a hands-on approach to harness the extensive potential of waterways nationwide, pursuing quick achievements and fostering collaboration with the private sector and relevant government agencies to redefine NIWA’s role.
In an effort to enhance accessibility and engagement, Alhaji Balogun proposed for the relocation of NIWA’s corporate headquarters to Abuja or Lagos, designating Lokoja as an area office. This move, according to Dr. Balogun, will improve inter-agency relationships and visibility, ensuring that NIWA remains readily accessible to the public and the overseeing ministry.
He emphasized that NIWA must not remain ‘concealed’ in Lokoja and must be easily reachable by its stakeholders and the public, considering the presence of many critical government agencies in Abuja and Lagos.