NIWA Inaugurates Taskforce To Curb Boat Mishaps, Aquires 20 Patrol Boats

…Commences e-Registration of Boats

By DAPO OLAWUNI

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on Thursday inaugurated a taskforce to patrol and enforce waterways protocols in the Lagos area, even as the agency commissioned three patrol boats that would monitor the waterways.

The taskforce is made up of officials from NIWA, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Association of Tourist Boats and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA)

NIWA MD, Dr George Moghalu (3rd from left) cutting the tape on the newly inaugurated boats in Lagos on Thursday

This is even as NIWA has announced that it has launched an electronic platform, and that from January 1st 2022, all registration processes for boats and crafts would be done online.

Speaking during the commissioning
of the boats, the Managing Director of NIWA, George Moghalu explained that the three boats were part of the 20 patrol boats recently procured by the agency across all its area offices.

He equally announced that the agency has procured two ambulances, even as one of them have been deployed to Lagos area. He assured that procurement of seven extra ambulances are ongoing.

The NIWA boss assured that the taskforce would be duplicated across all area offices of NIWA across the country.

Dr Moghalu (3rd from right) standing to address stakeholders at the commissioning

Moghalu lamented that whenever there is a boat mishap, he feels saddened. He attributed the accident to disobedience of operators to safety rules

“One of our headaches is the penchant by operators to overload boats. Many of the accidents that have claimed lives on our inland waterways has been down to overloading issues.

“Another problem we encounter on the waterways is the refusal to wear Life Jackets for passengers during ferry services by boat operators.

“It will be the responsibility of these Task Force to ensure compliance on our waterways henceforth. The three patrol boats will comb the Lagos inland waterways on a 24hours basis to apprehend operators who default on these safety rules. Anybody caught flouting these safety regulations will be arrested henceforth.

“We appreciate the collaborative efforts of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) and other government agencies. We will continue to look forward to collaborating with sister agencies to ensure that water transportation is safe and efficient.

Another issue that has been bothering us has to do with night boat trips. Our directive is clear, boats should not ply the waterways once it’s 6:30 pm in the evening. Many of the boat mishaps have occured at night. Our patrol boats will be combing the waterways in the evening to apprehend those defaulting on this directive.” he said

While addressing members of the taskforce, Dr Moghalu said their mandate is to cover all jetties across the country, either owned by NIWA or not, and that they are to only take instructions from NIWA.

Speaking earlier, General Manager Marine Operations of NIWA, Eng Joseph Ororo announced that from January 1st 2021, boats would be registered online.

He said that with this application, all boats across Nigerian waterways would be monitored, in case of theft, it would be located, while those engaging in illegal activities would easily be apprehended and sanctioned.

“We have launched our electronic information registration system which ensures online registration of boats, from 1st of January 2022, boat registration would be done online through the application NIWA is coming up with

“Henceforth, if you do any illegal business, you would be apprehended ” Ororo warned the gathered stakeholders at the event.

Earlier in her speech, the Lagos Area Manager, Engineer Sarat Braimah said that by October 4th, training and sensitization of the newly inaugurated taskforce would begin.

She also said that “Boat mishaps on Lagos waterways have reduced drastically, but we cannot be everywhere all the time, and this is why we are inaugurating this taskforce”

Also speaking, the President General of Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) Comrade Adewale Adeyanju commended the NIWA MD for his efforts at transforming Nigerian waterways.

Represented by his Deputy President General, Comrade Francis Bunu, Adeyanju pledged the full corporation of the union with NIWA in implementing its protocols as far as all jetties across Nigerian waterways.

The unionist expressed confidence that the taskforce, when in operation would put an end to issues of double taxation of boat operators by the various regulatory agencies.

On his part, President of ATBOWATON, Alhaji Tarzan Balogun asked NIWA to provide navigational aids to enable operators work at night. He said the ban on night movement of boats is not comfortable for the operators and residents of riverine areas like Badagry and Epe who work on the Lagos Island.

“We need life bouys and navigational aids on the waterways, this should be NIWA next project, from Lagos-Epe and also, Lagos-Badagry waterways” he said

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