By Steve Agbota and Chiwendu Obienyi
Worried by the spate of boat accidents/mishaps in the country, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has concluded plans to offer a mandatory small power boat and rigid inflatable boat master training initiative to educate boat owners and captains to reduce accidents on waterways. This is even as the water regulatory authority revealed that it is set to have a meeting with Nigeria Customs Service to see ways in which spares of boats can be imported and accessed by boat owners.
The Area Manager, NIWA Lagos, Sarat Buraimoh, revealed this during the NIWA stakeholders’ forum for boat operators which held in Lagos yesterday. Buraimoh noted that NIWA is bothered about the state of boat mishaps happening in Nigeria. She said NIWA in partnership with the Metropolitan waterways came up with the training aimed at educating boat owners and captains while urging them to cooperate with the regulatory authority.
According to her, it is compulsory to undergo the training no matter the category of personnel as it will now be a prerequisite to obtain a NIWA license.
Buraimoh also revealed that NIWA is set to meet with the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency so as to allow the regulatory authority to meet its mandate in issuing licenses to boat owners to operate in the cleaner waterways. “We are also looking at having a meeting with the DG of Customs on how we can import maritime spare parts and for our local content in which we can access loans, I am assuring stakeholders that before the end of this year, we will finalise all these things”.
Speaking on the guidelines on training of boat captains and issuance of boat drivers’ licenses, the General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Joseph Ororo, said the training is long overdue as the water authority has started the initiative Delta, Bayelsa and some other places and is set to do so in Lagos.He stated that most water accidents are caused by human errors with the regulators sharing a part in the blame and added that this is the reason behind the initiative.
According to Ororo, it is high time the rules and regulations entitled to water transportation is enforced as there are grey areas that needs to be addressed especially with licensing boat for operation. He said, “Going forward, we are going to be more-strict because if a boat is involved in an accident and we must investigate and severe sanctions would be imposed if the offender is found guilty. We just made a submission to the National Assembly concerning boat mishaps and we have analysed the various constraints and we intend to reduce this from happening on our waterways.