…..Rules too stiff – operators
By Uche Usim
FOLLOWING its recent modification of the operations of sand dredgers in Lagos State, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) have also released new operational guidelines for boat operators.
Under the new arrangement, the operators must now build boats measuring 7.3 metres in length and 2.2 metres in width to convey a maximum of 30 passengers.
The regulatory authorities also said standard lifejackets must be provided for passengers to ensure their safety. Other standard features that must be onboard the boats include fire extinguisher, paddle, lifebuoys, shore to sea communication gadgets, echo sounder system and navigational aids, among others.
Speaking in Lagos at a recent stakeholders’ meeting, the Area Manager of NIWA, Mu’azu Sambo, said the new guidelines are meant to promote safety in the agency’s quest to deepen water transportation in the country. He urged those who raised objections to the guidelines to comply, while assuring that the guidelines would be reviewed later. Sambo added that appropriate sanctions would be meted out to defaulters as safety of passengers remains non-negotiable.
But some boat operators, while reacting to the new rules, described them as very challenging.
Mr. Ganiyu Tarzan Balogun, the President, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria, said the 60-day ultimatum given to operators to comply with some aspects of the guidelines was rather too short.