By DAPO OLAWUNI |
Captains of ships under the aegis of the Nigerian Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) have said that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) lacks the required competence to implement some of the functions bestowed on her in the NIWA Act.
This pronouncement stems from concerns raised recently by the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Eng Sarat Braimah, that containers are now falling into Lagos waters from barges as they are being propelled by tug boats.
Eng Sarat had at a stakeholders meeting noted that more investors are now coming into tugboat operations due to the traffic gridlock on Lagos roads and containers are now being transported through the waterways, but captains of the tugboats are not trained and lack the requisite knowledge to operate them.
Speaking at a press briefing in Lagos on Monday, President of the master mariners, Capt Tajudeen Alao noted that NIWA should be blamed for the anomaly because the agency has placed commercial interests before professional requirements.
Capt Alao noted that before NIWA issues permit to any tugboat operators, it must have seen that the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has certified the boat and the captain.
He said “The tug boat captains must be experienced and certified, we do not condone fake certificates, we support proper training and proper tutelage, so the owners of the tugboats are the ones to be held responsible”
“You cannot give your new SUV to a motor boy to drive it. It is the responsibility of somebody to enforce this”
“NIMASA, Customs, Marine Police has powers under the merchant shipping Act and under the Customs Act. NIWA has a lot of responsibility in its Act, but they are not competent, they have not built adequate capacity to cover the scope of their responsibility”“They issue certificates. Let us call a spade a spade, there is only one point of registry in Nigeria and that is Lagos, there is only one registrar of ships in Nigeria and that is NIMASA through the Ministry of Transportation, so how can NIWA be registering boats?“The manpower to manage the situation have not been put in place.What we do is survey the ship and they go to NIWA for operational permit, one must come before the other, but now they put the commercial aspect before the safety and now give permit to all and sundry just because of IGR (Internally Generated Revenue)“We are also encouraging state governments to have a good marine department so that they can be reached and the collaboration can be established” he said
Speaking at the stakeholders’ meeting in Lagos in December 2019, the NIWA Lagos Manager announced that NIWA is coming up with a 3-days training for all private and commercial boat operators in Lagos State so as to equip them with basic knowledge of navigation and what to do in times of emergency.
Eng Sarat said that certificate issued at the training would now serve as a prerequisite for licensing and registration of boats for operations, starting from January 2020.