There is a raging in-fighting between two agencies of the Federal Government one part and the Lagos state government agency in charge of water transportation over licensing of boat operators in Lagos.
Investigations by Shipping Position Daily has revealed that, while the duo of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the National Inland Waterways Authourity (NIWA) are squabbling with each other, the Lagos State Waterways Authourity (LASWA) is also flexing its right over licensing of boat and boat operators in the state.
Shipping Position Daily recalls that boat operators had raised dust over the mandatory training and license proposed by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) stating that they have already undergone training and have been licensed by the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA).
However, reacting to the vexation of the boat operators as to which license they should acquire, NIWA argued that it is the only agency exclusively empowered by law to issue such license as the agency in charge of all inland waterways in Nigeria.
In a chat with one of our correspondents, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engineer Sarat Braimah, stated that the NIWA laws empower it to license inland water crafts to the extent of its operations on the inland waterways.
Engineer Braimah who tried to cover the brewing cold war between the agency and NIMASA over licensing the operators, said all hands are on deck and negotiations have been made with relevant agencies.
She however explained that exemptions will be given to boat operators who already has NIMASA’s license till its expiration.
She stressed that NIMASA or any other agencies does not have the constitutional backing to license boat operators.
In her words: “Any boat driver that has already procured NIMASA’s license prior to June 2021 with respect to the category of Boat for which NIWA is empowered by law to issue such License will, be allowed to operate within the time frame of its expiration and subsequently will be obliged to have the NIWA’s License thereafter”.
The NIWA boss said the specific roles and functions of NIWA in terms of Inland Waterways Transportation regulations are duly defined in the sections of NIWA Act and therefore very clear and unambiguous. “The provisions of this Law are exclusive to the authority and do not conflict whatsoever with any other agency’s law”, she noted.
Braimah also said there are no levies or tax imposed on operators, but applicants are to pay training fees to accredited training institutions, who will, in turn, recommend the same to NIWA for the issuance of Certificate and Boats Driver’s License after successful completion of the training.
On the other hand, a source who works at NIMASA but pleaded anonymity informed our correspondent that NIMASA also has the right to issue license to boat operators.
He confirmed that NIMASA issues Power Driven Small Craft Certificates and Passenger Survey Licenses to boat operators and are exclusively in charge of the Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZ).
He however stated that terms of licensing the boat operators are being worked upon by the two agencies to avoid further rancor and over taxing of the operators.
Also claiming the right to license boat operators, the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), argued that it is saddled with the responsibility of regulating all aspects of water transportation and other waterways-related activities within the Lagos inland waterways.
While speaking with the Public Relations Officer of LASWA, Mrs. Nkechi Ajayi, she informed that boat operators are mandated to pay for license fees or registration fees depending on their type of boats.
She added that the operators also pay annual berthing fees for facility usage. “All these monies are what the government uses to construct modern jetties, terminals, and other waterways infrastructure which we all enjoy” she noted.
In her words: “LASWA’s role as regard regulation of boat operators in Lagos State includes issuance: operational licenses and registration of all commercial and private ferries, provision of emergency search and rescue services, ensuring adequate compliance with safety guidelines while providing safety awareness for boat Operators and passengers alike”
“LASWA conducts regular training and workshop for boat captains and deckhands and there is also a compulsory certification programme for boat handlers”.
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