Boat Mishaps: NIWA, NIMASA, LASWA Commend WABOTAN Over Training of 147 Boat Operators in Lagos

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Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun, National President of WABOTAN and Chief Executive Officer of SIMTOP

By DAPO OLAWUNI

In order to cub the recurrence of boat accidents on the Lagos waterways, the Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association of Nigeria (WABOTAN) on Saturday held a capacity building programme for 147 boat and ferry operators on safer inland waterways transportation.

National President of WABOTAN, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun (4th from left) General Manager of LASWA, Oluwadamilola Emmanuel (5th from right) in a group photograph with other executive members of WABOTAN at the training in Apapa over the weekend

The training which held in Apapa Lagos, had resource persons from National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Lagos Fire Service Department, Yahama among others.

The training majored on relevant operational issues including; Boat handling and maintenance, Boarding and disembarking procedures, Lifejacket handling, donning and maintenance

Others are; Preventive maintenance for outboard engines, Fire fighting and prevention, as well as CPR and first aid.

Speaking at the programme, NIWA Head of Marine, Lagos Area, Eng Elsie Egwuatu commended WABOTAN taking the initiative of equipping boat operators every year, adding that the association has keyed into the vision of NIWA in ensuring safe navigable waterways.

R-L: Public Relations Officer of WABOTAN, Chief Raymond Gold, WABOTAN National President, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun, NIWA Lagos Area head of Marine, Mrs Elsie Egwuatu and Board Chairman of WABOTAN, Comrade Paul Gwam, presenting certificate of participation to one of the boat operators.

“I want to commend WABOTAN for this laudable initiative they have always engaged in by ensuring that they train their members regarding safety navigation on the waterways, because, education is key for any captain in carrying out their duties effectively on the waterways.
The objective of WABOTAN is commensurate with that of NIWA.

“There is a slogan I always like to reiterate, and that is ‘if you don’t train them, don’t blame them.

“In the waterways transportation, after God, the next is the boat Captain, this is because if there is eventualities, the passengers lives is entrusted to the boat captain. So, the captain knowing how to carry out his duties is very key in keeping the waterways safe.

“As an authority, we are willing to keep partnering with WABOTAN because their aims and objectives is always hammering on ensuring that our waterways are safe and accidents are reduced to the barest minimum.
I want to commend the management of the association for updating its members on what is expected if them” she said

Also speaking, the District Surveyor, Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) Eng Patrick Ike expressed satisfaction at the effort of WABOTAN in equipping boat operators and deckhands with needed knowledge.

Eng Patrick disclosed that NIMASA as an agency is working on creating a database of all boat operators operating on the Lagos waterways and their level of experience.

He also informed the gathering of boat Skippers that the agency is set to begin the enforcement of biometric barcode on boats operating around the country.

The admonished that the boat operators training and certification should be continous, the operators should not just limit themselves to operating local boats alone, but they should pursue further trainings that could eventually qualify them to work onboard big vessels as able seamen, Oilers and so on

“I am impressed at the large turn-out of operators at this training, this shows that the enthusiasm and interest in trying to do things right is working. This is because most times, they blame us for not doing the right thing, meanwhile it is not that we cannot do the right thing, but we intentionally don’t want to do the right thing.

“NIMASA is interested in safety awareness and certification. If you look at our waterways and the rate of accidents that we record, majority of them are caused by the boat operators due to faulty machineries and negligence” he said

The General Manager of LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel said that the agency is very impressed with WABOTAN for being consistent over the years with training of boat operators.

According to him, these series of training programmes has led to a drastic reduction in the number of boat mishaps being recorded around the state.

“We are very impressed, and I dare say that because this is not just a one-time thing, WABOTAN has been doing this annually, and when you see somebody doing something consistently, it shows that the person knows what he is doing.

“As an authority, we have no choice but to support in every way possible, in terms of personnel, to ensure that we make our own contribution in ensuring that we have a safe waterways.
WABOTAN has gotten our full cooperation.

“90% of the waterways accidents are avoidable, most of the time, it is operators negligence that leads to these accidents. This is why this training is important to be able to ensure that they realise what should be done in every situation.

“I want us to take a step back to last year and two years ago, there has been a consistent growth towards safety on the waterways. Last year, we only recorded one major mishap on the waterways, the year before, it was two incidents, this year 2024 we have recorded two incidents and we are very concerned about how those two happened, and we are looking into it to ensure that it never happens again.

“In as much as we are taking responsibility for what we should, we also want the operators to take their responsibility, if everyone plays their part, then we can have a safe waterways.

“One of the things we are doing is that we are marking areas where we have potential wrecks on the waterways in Lagos State, I believe that the information would enable us advice operators on where some of the wrecks are.
These wrecks are caused by dredging companies and even other ship owners who abandon their ships on the waterways.

Demonstration of firefighting skills by boat operators


“Secondly, we are talking to the operators that, they must not overload their boats, this is why our personnel are at the Jetties. We have realised that sometimes even along the way, they pick more passengers, thereby creating a recipe for disaster” he said

The LASWA General Manager also dislclosed that the state government is currently carrying out dredging and chanelisation of navigable waterways in the state which according to him is capital intensive.

On his part, the National President of WABOTAN, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun said that this is the 5th edition of the series of capacity building sessions that the association is holding for boat operators.

According to him, the government is trying its best in ensuring that waterways are accident-free, but that boat operators still need more collaboration from them, especially in area of safety.

Speaking, he said “This is a continuation of the trainings we have held before. We must not wait until we have an accident before we refresh the brains of our drivers and members.

“This is the first training this year and the 5th edition of the series of training we have held. Before the end of this year, we are still planning to hold another training but this will hold outside Lagos, we want to take it to the Northern part of the country, particularly Kwara State.
Today, we had 147 participants even though we budgeted for 150 people.

“The marking of the waterways with bouys from Marina jetty to Lagos is being carried out by the NIWA, these buoys were not properly erected before, but I believe it is ongoing” he said

Speaking on some of the challenges of navigation, Comrade Fajemirokun said “We have a lot of wrecks, but NIWA and NIMASA are doing a lot in this regard, especially around Kirikiri. Another challenge we have is water hyacinths and this is a yearly thing which comes and goes”

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