By DAPO OLAWUNI
The British High Commission in Nigeria has trained ten officials of the marine department of National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA) on how to navigate the inland waterways in their bid to burst drug cartels making use of the waters.
The maritime competency training courses and exams offered to the NDLEA was sponsored by the British Deputy High Commission in Nigeria, while the training was carried out by consultants to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on training; Metropolitan Waterways Concepts Limited.
While speaking at a ceremony in Lagos on Friday to present certificates and National Skippers License to the successful NDLEA officers, Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Eng Sarat Braimah said there are lots of skippers and boat operators on the waterways who are yet to be trained.
She expressed concerns that this was causing a lot of menace and accident on the waterways and attendant loss of lives.
“Most of our boat mishaps are caused by human errors which means that most of the skippers don’t know what it means to be in the waters, they do not understand most of the signs.
“We know you have trained the NDLEA, congratulations to the trainees, but please help us to train more.
Like they say, if you don’t train them, you don’t blame them, you cannot blame who you did not train. This is why we have mandated this course for the boat operators. We know what is happening on our waterways and we want to change it by all means” Eng Sarat stated
Mrs Marie Maxwell from the British Deputy High Commission in Nigeria congratulated the NDLEA officers that completed the training program.
Speaking she said “We are very proud to be supporting the NDLEA in their war against drugs, we are helping them develop their maritime capabilities to protect Nigeria from the threats of organized drug crime”
She commended NDLEA in recording huge successes so far in their successive commands. According to her, this particular training is part of the three years program of activities to develop patrol capabilities to deal with drug crimes in Nigerian waters.
Chairman of the occasion and former Director General of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Dr Ade Dosunmu noted that the maritime sector is unique in nature, and that it would be difficult to handle a vessel or boat if you are not trained.
“As a matter of fact, it is an international sector, and everything that happens there is being regulated, even those who would handle the smallest watercraft must be trained and certified fit to handle them.
“In shipping, the most important thing for us is safety, and I believe this is why the British High Commission sponsored this program” he said
Dr Dosunmu advised the NDLEA management to expose the officers to the practical aspect of the job in order to put the experience they have gained into use.
On his part, Mr Isaac Uzar, Commander Marine, NDLEA said the training was in line with the visions of NDLEA Chairman, Gen Buba Marwa (Rtd) in repositioning the agency through his mandate of War Against Drug Abuse (WADA) targeted at ridding the Nigerian society of illicit drugs.
“This training would afford our operatives the license called; National Skippers License. I want to thank NIWA and Metropolitan Waterways Concepts for providing the platform, if not for you, we would have been talking of going abroad for this course, and this would have financial implications
“NDLEA would continue to collaborate with the major stakeholders because everyone has a role to play.
“The course would position the agency to tackle all maritime crimes. From our arrests data’s, so much drugs are being arrested in the maritime domain, and our ability to keep up is very limited. This investment by the British High Commission would produce a better society, not only in Nigeria but internationally” he said
Chief Executive Officer of Metropolitan Waterways Concepts, consultants to NIWA on training, Eng Lateef Onikoyi noted that out of the twelve NDLEA officials registered for the training, only ten of them passed, while two would retake their exams.
He explained that his company, registered in 2014, was the only firm offering such training on inland waterways navigation in the entire West African sub-region.
According to him, the NDLEA officers were trained on the following Maritime Courses: Power Boat and RIB Master Course which is the NIWA approved training for all Boat Drivers (skippers); Day Skippers Course which is the Advance Training for the Operation of Boats in the Coastal Passage; Coastal Yachts Master which is more of the Practical Training of the Day Skippers Course.
“The Officers were also trained on Seamanship, Coastal Navigation and Pilotage, Chart works, Electronic Chart works, Position Fixing, Plotting a Course to Steer, Weather Forecasting, Meteorology and Weather Prediction etc.
“Other courses that the officers undertook includes Advance Boat Handling for Coastal Passage, Shaping and Plotting, Marine Radio Short Range (VHF) Communication.
“I have no doubt that the Officers who have attended the courses have gained a lot and increased their Competency in boat handling. Once again, please permit me to appreciate the British Deputy High Commission for the great opportunity given to the officers of the NDLEA by sponsoring the training.
“I will not end this address without appreciating my dear sister, the Area Manager Engr. (Mrs) Sarat Omolara Braimah who is always ready to give her support for any idea that will improve and make our waterways safe” he stated