Accidents: NIWA to Ban Rickety Speed Boats on Waterways

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    Eromosele Abiodun

    The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has threatened to ban operators of rickety speed boats over series of accidents on Lagos waterways.

    The General Manager, Lagos Area Office of NIWA, Muazu Sambo, disclosed this at a stakeholders’ meeting with boat users -United Waterways Passengers Association (UWPA) and boat operators under the aegis of Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria (NATBOWAT) in Lagos.

    He said the agency had put plans in place to ensure that the life of Nigerians patronising the boat operators are not put at risk because of the nefarious activities of some operators.

    “Five people died in a boat accident in Lagos last week Wednesday evening. The incident happened at about 5.57 pm when the boat capsized mid-sea en route Ikorodu from Lagos Island.

    “It was also gathered that an unclaimed corpse is still lying at the morgue because the identity of the corpse remained unknown. This is not good enough and we will do what is possible to check what the operators are doing and fish out the bad eggs, “he said.

    He said the federal government had concluded arrangements to convert two major jetties in Lagos, Ido and Marina to river ports to facilitate the movement of cargo from Apapa ports to other part of the country.

    Also, he said the Onitsha river port in Anambra State and Baro river port in Niger State would be inaugurated before the end of 2018.

    He listed the three other river ports as Lokoja in Kogi State, Makurdi in Benue State and Uguta in Imo State which are between 75 and 85 percent completed.
    Specifically, he stated that the Baro River Port, Niger State, had been completed and was ready to start operations.

    He said the Baro and Lokoja ports would be inaugurated by President Muhammadu Buhari before the end of this year.
    According to him, NIWA had supplied the cargo-handling equipment which was being installed at Baro port.

    “President Buhari will inaugurate Baro and Lokoja ports before the end of 2018. There is provision in the 2018 budget for the construction of roads that will link Baro port to Lokoja and Abuja Express Way. “We have engaged another contractor to fast-track the construction of Lokoja port and also working toward completion of Oguta port in Imo,”Ibrahim said.

    He also said the concession of Onitsha Port had been completed and the concessionaires would soon start operation.
    “Finally, the concessioning of Onitsha Port has been completed, we opened the financial bids on July 3, 2018 and we will pick the most competent concessionaire. Any moment from now, the concessionaire will take over Onitsha port,” said the NIWA boss.

    He explained there was need for NIWA to continue to engage in continuous maintenance of all the channels under its jurisdiction.

    According to him, the authority has been calling on international organisations to partner with it. Ibrahim said NIWA’s Bill which had been before the National Assembly for the past 10 years had passed second reading.

    “This would help the organisation to be independent like other sister government agencies. The bill would increase the capacity of the authority and also create room for Public Private Partnership (PPP) and provide numerous jobs for unemployed Nigerians,” he said.

    The NIWA boss said the agency had included the dredging of River Benue to complement the River Niger in its 2019 master plan.