…As MWUN Pledges to Sponsor Next Round of Training Program
By DAPO OLAWUNI
The Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association of Nigeria (WABOTAN) has now a toast of all government regulatory agencies in the maritime industry, apparently because of it’s initiative in ensuring that professionalism is infused into the boat operations, increase level of safety and ensure that boat accidents are reduced.
Speaking at a one-day training program on Saturday tagged; “boat/ferry crew capacity development for safer inland waterways transportation” spearheaded by WABOTAN, General Manager of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel commended the President of WABOTAN, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun and his entire executives for taking the training initiatives.
“For us, anything that would develop the inland waterways, we are always happy about it and we would always support such initiative. We are very delighted and that is why we are here in full force to support this training
“This training would help prevent possible incidents in the waterways and equip the operators with the necessary skills and knowledge they should have about navigation of the inland waterways
“When WABOTAN was starting operation, I told them that they need to ensure that they put their money where their mouth is, ensure that they do all they have said they will do.
“It gives me great joy that it has not been up to two months and they are doing this initiative,” he said
Also speaking, Eng Elsie Egwuatu, Head of Marine Operations of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) noted that the training would improve the boat operators level of adherence to the rules and regulations.
“If we don’t train them, don’t blame them because if they don’t know what is expected of them, there is no way they can adhere to the safety rules and regulations on the waterways.
“WABOTAN just came on board and I must say that they hit the ground running, their efforts to impact on the society is commendable.
“NIWA is always desirous of keeping the waterways accident free, we are ready to collaborate with anybody or association that is keeping in to this endeavours as safety is everybody’s business both regulators, operators and the passengers,” she said.
Egwuatu advised other associations to bring up initiatives that would impact on the society noting that most of the accidents that happen on our waterways is caused by human errors.
“If we can catch operators for them to know what is expected of them on the waterways, we will be able to achieve the safety we are clamouring for,” she said.
Also speaking, Comrade Sunday Avoseh, President, Seaman’s branch, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN) urged all stakeholders in the water transportation business to support what WABOTAN is doing.
He assure that the union has volunteered to sponsor the next round of training program which would be held by WABOTAN.
“This is a welcomed development and it has to be encouraged by all stakeholders. The reason is that if the boat operators are well trained, the boat owners would be at rest because he know that his investment would not go into the drain overnight, the passengers would also be at rest because they know they are in a safer hands, the boat operator himself would be at rest because of the knowledge he has gotten
“What WABOTAN is doing is a good thing, it is the right step in the right direction and every meaningful stakeholder must encourage it” he said
According to Comrade Avoseh, there was nothing as dangerous as working with an untrained worker, applauding the association for the training.
“We all witness what happens on our waterways, accidents and so curbing this is what we are doing today by this training,” he said.
Also, Mr Patrick Ike, the Assistant Director, District Surveyor, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that the programme was supposed to address some greater problem of mishap on the country’s waterways.
“Unfortunately, when we that are suppose to come and enlighten the operators to imbibe the safety culture in them are called we don’t attend, at the end of the day we blame some of these mishaps on negligence, incompetence.
“We that have the key and suppose to do something on this are not doing so, what do we expect, the rate of the mishap will still continue.
“I give WABOTAN kudos for organising this and charge them not to relent, they should include all agencies and stakeholders the next time they are hosting the training to ensure safety on the waterways,” he said.
Mr Ngozi Njoku, Commandant, Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Fire Service, noted that the hunger to do things right and professionally should be the concern of all participants in the training.
“Improve yourself daily, whatever you learn today should be praticalised so that it becomes part and parcel of your system of operations,” Njoku said.
President of WABOTAN, Comrade Tope Fajemirokun, said that the exercise was necessary because of the usual rush of the ember months in water transportation and the attendant mishaps.
“We are in the ember months now, and it is believed in some quarters that accidents usually increase in December but we don’t pray for it to happen.
“So, we want to create safety awareness for our members and place them on high alert,” he said
Not less than 120 boat operators and ferry service providers participated in the training program and certificates were issued to them all thereafter.
The boat operators are expected to visit the NIMASA Headquarters to participate in another oral test after which they would be issued with Power Driven Small Crafts Certificates (PDSC).
DAILY TREND notes that the PDSC certificate issued by NIMASA is recognized all over the world.
The Saturday training session saw presentation of lectures from NIWA, LASWA, NPA fire service department, NIMASA, Lagos State Fire and Rescue Service among others.