From Anthony Nwachukwu, Lagos
In view of the avoidable boat fatalities on the inland waterways, the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has said it would get tough with untrained and uncertified boat skippe brs, who often ignore safety procedures and endanger the lives of passengers.
Making the position known in Lagos, the NIMASA Director-General, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, told the visiting General Manager of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr. Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, that it was necessary to develop cohesive safety enforcement guidelines and regulations for all littoral states.
Such harmonisation of standards and procedures for safety in the territorial waters would go a long way in minimising unsafe practices by operators of non-conventional vessels, which are not subject to international standards, but rely mainly on national regulations, he noted.
“We have a number of boat skippers that are not trained and not knowledgeable enough, and they do not have certification. They only know how to maneuver the boat and risk people’s lives. We will now start to check that,” a statement by the Head of Corporate Communications, Philip Kyanet, quoted Jamoh to say.
“The issue is important, that is why I would start to take it more seriously, because charity begins at home. If we have enforcement officers and they are laid back, they will continue to watch what is happening without doing anything.”
Meanwhile, “I am glad to see the synergy and collaboration that is developing with the Lagos State Waterways Authority, because we all have as our common mandate the job of ensuring safety in our waters.”
According to him, the Federal Ministry of Transportation was also in the process of building unified enforcement guidelines for safety in the country’s waters, and the synergy between NIMASA and the Lagos State Government will fast track the process.
Jamoh further stressed the need for greater supervision of officers enforcing safety standards at sea, adding that safety procedures, such as availability of adequate lifejackets, good condition of the boat and time of use must be verified by enforcement officers before a boat sets sail.
On his part, Emmanuel promised more information sharing between both agencies as part of efforts to improve collaboration for maritime safety. He added: “We have the database of small craft, which we would be ready to share with NIMASA.
“I am really excited that this is happening because overtime, what we generally tend to see on the waterways is an overlap of so many functions, like the issues we have had over the years with NIWA (National Inland Waterways Authority), and how that has affected the things that have happened on the waterways.”