Sarat Braimah, the NIWA’s Lagos Area Manager, said this in a statement which revealed that the organization had won a prize for building a mass transit system.
“The Authority also realized that an inadequate number of vessels (Boats) may be responsible for overloading and has therefore awarded a contract for the provision of ‘mass transit’ passengers’ boats to be deployed to various locations nationwide.”
She explained that many boat mishaps resulted from mechanical, human and natural factors.
“Boat mishaps are unfortunate and embarrassing incidents and it is horrifying to hear of the series of mishaps suffered by Nigerians.
“Boat mishaps are mainly as a result of mechanical, human and natural factors such as overloading, careless driving, overspeeding, negligence, turbulent weather, wreckages, use of old wooden boat, tree stumps, snags, night sailing, untrained boat drivers and flagrant disregard for safety regulations, most especially sailing in the night and lack of usage of life jackets. Another factor is the closure of village markets in the evening, which results in night travel.”
Another difficulty, according to Braimah, was that the majority of these boats were launched from regular steep banks and unlawful jetties.
She said, however, that NIWA, which oversees the Inland Waterways Transportation System, had started taking action to combat the problem of boat accidents in Nigeria.
“The most important of the measures is the introduction of Inland waterways transportation code, being the handiwork of all inland waterways stakeholders’ conference held in Uyo. The code tends to regulate inland navigation generally but particularly passenger services, loading and unloading operations, safety of navigation, ship waste management, search and rescue operations, extinguishment of fires on vessels, etc.”
According to her, “NIWA has also commenced the training and certification of boat drivers nationwide with a view to ensuring professionalism, regular safety awareness and sensitization campaigns across the country. This is in addition to regular security and compliance patrols on the Waterways by the team of NIWA police and mariners. NIWA has also established 9 search and rescue stations in Lagos, Lokoja, Port Harcourt, Yauri and New Bussa for timely rescue and the establishment of more for other locations is ongoing.”