By Ajibola Abayomi,,
The threat is coming on heels of series of boat mishaps on the Lagos waterways.
This was disclosed by the General Manager, Lagos Area Office of NIWA, Engr. Mu’Azu Sambo at a stakeholders meeting with boat users under the aegis of United Waterways Passengers Association (UWPA) and Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation of Nigeria (ATBOWATAN).
Five people died in a boat accident in Lagos on last Wednesday. The incident occurred in the evening, when the boat capsized enroute Ikorodu from Lagos Island.
The Area Manager lamented that the incessant mishaps recorded on the Lagos inland waterways, occurred as a result of sub standard fibre boats, even as he identified wrecks, logs and fishermen as obstacle of safe navigation on the channels
Sambo said the authority had given operators enough time to standardize their operations but they failed to comply.
He said beach masters would be deployed to various jetties in the state, adding that, “As far as i am the area manager of Lagos Office, flying coffins won’t operate again.
“In 2016, we have given them enough time to standardize their operations by giving them opportunities to seek loans but they have refused.
“The only reasons why am not banning the flying coffins is because of the consequence on the users but drastic situations call for drastic action and the vacuum created will be filled by private operators waiting for actions on the sub-standard boats.”
“Also, on how to stop avoidable deaths on the Lagos Inland waterways, Sambo ,”Beach masters will be in place across jetties in Lagos within the next two weeks.
“The beach masters will receive uniforms; merchant navy training and they will have a code of conducts. We will let you know who the Beach masters are and contacts of the search and rescue teams. NIWA will also be visiting the jetties at random and seizing substandard life jackets.”
Speaking on issue of educating and enlightenment of passengers, the Area Manager, said they would be trained on enforcing standards on the inland waterways.
Sambo added “Education and enlightenment is critical and we will address that on the deployment of beach masters and they will be trained that their duties include enforcement of safety standards at the jetties at all time.
“Also, making sure that boat captains are not reeling of alcohol and quarterly awareness campaigns on safety.”
“We have received ministerial approval to remove wrecks but it is cumbersome and there are processes and it started last year and we got approval last year and we want to use the opportunity of the company to remove a lot wrecks in the Lagos inland waterways.”
Also speaking, the Chairman of UWPA, Pius Agbude lamented that over-loading by boat operators which he said the designs are faulty
“We should know the actual number of persons that are supposed to be boarded in the boats because we have about 20 persons which is always over-crowded.”
Agbude who complained about lack of emergency intervention especially first aids equipment at boat mishap scenes raised the alarm over unclaimed corpse at the morgue.
“A corpse is still at the morgue unclaimed because we don’t have the identity of the corpse or how to travel the family.”
“We must educate first time users because they are the one falling victims when mishap occurs.”