…As Fuel Scarcity Cutdown Waterways Traffic by 30%
By DAPO OLAWUNI
Against the backdrop of waterways accidents and the attendant deaths across Nigeria, boat operators have accused the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) of being negligent with it’s responsibility of ensuring training, and issuing of Power Driven Small Crafts (PDSC) Operators Certificate to all boat operators.
This is even as the operators have lamented that activities on the waterways have reduced by 30 percent due to the biting fuel scarcity across the nation.
President of Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association of Nigeria (WABOTAN) Comrade Tope Fajemirokun in an exclusive chat with DAILY TREND in Lagos on Thursday alleged that NIMASA is lagging behind in enforcement of the PDSC certification.
Comrade Fajemirokun states that WABOTAN is organizing a training program for all boat operators on November 19th 2022 at Apapa Local Government hall in Apapa Lagos, so as to refresh their memories and further reduce waterways accidents.
Our correspondent reports that PDSC Certificate is issued after an oral test is conducted for the boat operators who have passed through PDSC courses at recognized institutions by NIMASA.
The PDSC courses are offered by NIMASA recognized institutions including Maritime Academy of Nigeria (MAN) Chakins Marine Institution, as well as Joe Marine Institution.
According to the requirements listed by NIMASA, candidates must be at least 18 years old, have served 4 years as a deck rating, Seafarers Medical Certificate, Basic safety Training, and Security Awareness Certificate.
The candidates according to the apex regulatory agency must also demonstrate knowledge on the following: ability to start, stop and maneuver small craft, Helm orders
Others are; Navigational lights and shapes carried by ships, usage of Lifesaving and Fire Fighting appliances. Collision regulations as applied to Inland Waters, Carry out Emergency procedures in cases such as during rainstorms, fire, collision, man over board,
However speaking with our correspondent on the recent increase in waterways accidents, Comrade Fajemirokun said has not lived up to expectation in enforcement of it’s responsibilities in the aspect of certification.
“On waterways accidents, this is one of the reasons why we want to refresh the brain of our members for training, so that we can avoid these kinds of accidents, we want to collaborate with NIWA too for another training.
“NIMASA is lagging behind on the PDSC, the agency is not taking it very serious, they are not even enforcing it on us, that is the area where we want to partner with NIMASA so that all our members, all our boat drivers can get their PDSC and operate with their license.
“Productive Certificate for Small Craft is like a drivers license for small crafts. Boat owners and drivers should have it. They must also go for training before the license is given to them”
“We are now planning a training program for our members, coming up next month November 19 at Apapa Local Government hall, we have written all the stakeholders, including NIMASA, LASWA, NIWA and National Safety Commission, we want them all to be on that training for our members.
“By December, we are organizing another leadership training for the stakeholders and leaders on the waterways”
“This our training would be handled by NIMASA, NIWA and LASWA, after the training, operators would go for oral classes by NIMASA after which they would be issued the PDSC certificate” he said
Comrade Fajemirokun noted that the WABOTAN has experienced an upsurge in it’s membership drive, as boat operators from neighboring countries of Benin Republic are now aspiring for collaboration with the body.
“We have been having a lot of new members, even from our neighboring country, Republic of Benin, they have been joining us, they want to partner with us. In Nigeria here too, a lot of members have been joining us.
“They want to join WABOTAN, they have their own association in Republic of Benin, they want to partner with WABOTAN in Nigeria for a good collaboration in running the waterways across both countries.
Comrade Fajemirokun lamented that presently, there are lots of challenges confronting the boat operators business.
“Presently, fuel scarcity is affecting us, but with the current situation of the country, we cannot increase our fairs, we are buying fuel from the black market.
“There is no way we can increase our fairs because the salaries of government workers have not been increased, if we do that now, they would all run away and we would lose customers, so we are trying to manage them.
“Automatically, traffic on the waterways have reduced because of the fuel scarcity, we are trying to manage the situation, it has reduced waterways traffic by thirty percent.
There is no fuel for us to operate and activities have reduced”
On the frequent patrol by regulatory agencies to ensure that boat accidents are reduced, he said “We have NIWA joint patrol in collaboration with ATBOWATON, WABOTAN, MWUN, they are working everyday, but they work mostly at night because most of these accidents happen at night, so they work between 5 and 8pm.
“They are all over Lagos here patrolling. The accident occur during day time, but not like the night time, in the afternoon we have the jetty representative and Coordinators, we have the water guards from LASWA always at the jetty at afternoons coordinating” he said