Boat Mishap: NIWA to Clamp Down on Illegal Boat Operators, Says Moghalu

Kasim Sumaina in Abuja

The management of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), yesterday hinted of its readiness to clamp down on illegal boat operators in the country waterways to avert yet another disaster.

The NIWA stated that recurrent boat incidents are unfortunate, embarrassing and horrifying to hear of the series of mishaps suffered by Nigerians.

The Managing Director of NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu, while briefing the press in Abuja, noted that NIWA has initiated measures aimed at addressing the menace of mishaps in Nigeria.

Moghalo noted that seven incidents have been recorded since he assumed office. 

He stated that efforts are being made to ensure that village markets close as early as 7p.m. 

The NIWA boss attributed boat mishaps to mechanical, human and natural factors such as overloading, careless driving, over speeding, negligence, turbulent weather, wreckages, use of old wooden boat, tree stumps, snags, night sailing, untrained boat drivers and flagrant disregard for safety regulations, most especially sailing in the night and lack of usage of life

He revealed that most of the vessels operated from illegal jetties without navigational aid, life jackets to sail at turbulence water at night in the event of late closure of village markets which result to night journey.

Moghalu, however, said that some measures have been put in place to checkmate these incidents, among them is the introduction of inland waterways transportation code, which is intended to regulate inland navigation generally but particularly passenger services, loading and unloading operations, safety of navigation, ship waste management, search and rescue operations, extinguishment of fires on vessels.

He said that the authority has already established nine search and rescue stations in Lagos, Lokoja, Port Harcourt, Yauri, New Bussa amongst others for timely rescue and the establishment of additional three (3) for other locations is ongoing.

“The authority also realised that inadequate number of vessels (boats) may be responsible for overloading and has therefore awarded contract for the provision of “mass transit” passengers’ boats to be deployed to various locations nationwide and have also deployed our taskforce team to arrest and prosecute illegal operators from unauthorized jetties henceforth,” Moghalu said.

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