By Steve Agbota
The National Inland Waterways Authorities (NIWA) yesterday commissioned three patrol boats for safeguarding lives and property on the waterways.
The Authority inaugurated a task force team to ensure that boat operators are adhere to safety protocols on the waterways.
Addressing boat operators and stakeholders at the commissioning, the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu, said the agency procured 20 patrol boats and decided to hand over three for the Lagos inland waterways.
“The security and safety on our waterways is one area that gives me so much concern and inaugurating these taskforce will help NIWA enforce all the protocols and this has to be done immediately.
“I commend our partners in this project, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Lagos State Waterways Authorities, National Durg Law Enforcement Agency, I appreciate them for their support.
“NIWA coordinating this particular activities because of the emphasis on security and emergency response and we have procured quite a number of patrol boats. Twenty of them will be given to our area offices and we have brought three to Lagos today,” he added.
He said NIWA also procured two ambulances already and the procurement process for additional seven is ongoing, one is being brought to Lagos.
He noted that one thing that was very clear was that people are averse to obeying protocols, adding that NIWA had placed embargo on movement from 6.30p.m and not before 6.30 a.m in the morning because 90 per cent of accidents on waterways occur during these periods.
Earlier, he charged Barge Operators Association of Nigeria (BOAN) to ensure movement of cargo from Lagos to Onitsha.
He seeks the support of BOAN to make water transportation to be effective in Nigeria in order to attract investments in the country.
“I will encourage you to do everything you can to ensure that cargoes are being moved from Lagos to Onitsha. We are removing wrecks on the inland waterways to proper navigation.
“We are removing them as the budget is being made available by the Federal Government. We promise to support you in the area you need us because barge operations is part of our mandate,” he added.