The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) says the authority is putting measures in place to avoid the reoccurance of boat mishaps in the country.
The Managing Director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu said this at a news conference on Tuesday, following the recent boat mishap in Niger State.
According to Moghalu, boat mishaps are mainly as a result of mechanical, human and natural factors such as overloading, careless driving, speeding, negligence, turbulent weather and wreckages.
He said that night sailing, untrained boat drivers and flagrant disregard for safety regulations among others were major causes of boat mishaps.
Moghalu noted that NIWA being the regulator of the Inland Waterways Transportation System had, however, initiated measures aimed at addressing the menace of boat mishaps in Nigeria.
”The most important of the measures is the introduction of Inland Waterways Transportation code, being the hand work 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.
”NIWA has commenced the training and certification of boat drivers nationwide with a view to ensuring professionalism, regular safety awareness and sensitisation 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 nine search and rescue stations in Lagos, Lokoja, Port Harcourt, Yauri, New Bussa amongst others for timely rescue and the establishment of additional three for other locations is ongoing.
”It has standardised its inspection of vessels to ensure standard and safety compliance and provided surveillance gadgets along the waterways to enhance safety and security,”Moghalu said.
According him, due to the challenge of inadequate number of boats, which may be responsible for overloading, NIWA awarded contract for the provision of “mass Transit” passengers’ boats to be deployed to various locations nationwide.
On enforcement, Moghalu said the authority was employing the use of task force to ensure operators maintained the rules and regulations.
He said the provision of life jackets to boat operators nationwide was also a constant exercise in the authority.
According to him, about seven mishap have occurred since 2019 when he assumed office at the authority.
He, however, called on the media to help sensitise the public on the need to take caution, follow safety rules and avoid patronising illegal and unregistered boat operators.
He urged people to avoid night sailing as most vessels lacked night navigation aids, were, therefore, prone to accidents.