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Boat mishaps: NIWA’s hammer dangles over indicted operators

• May prosecute them for acts of negligence

The Lagos Area Office of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has warned boat operators that it will de-register and withdraw operational licences of operators indicted for acts of negligence and other infractions leading to boat mishaps and similar untoward developments.

The warning came against the backdrop of what NIWA described as ‘disturbing and worrisome’ boat accidents on Lagos waterways in recent time.

The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Mrs. Sarat Braimah, said in a statement obtained by AbeyaNews that the company would also prosecute indicted operators.
She said the regulatory agency would no longer fold its arms and watch deviant operators doing things that would result to loss of lives.

“We have tried to provide the needed enabling environment for operators, including training programmes to expose them to operational standards, yet some have chosen the path of desperation and dangerous behaviours, leading to loss of lives and property,” she lamented.

Braimah said the NIWA had run out of patience with recalcitrant operators, noting that no operator would go unpunished for committing any indiscretion.

She disclosed that pre-boarding formalities targeted at passengers’ awareness would now form part of the enforcement regime to help stabilize and encourage first timers.

“Those afraid of water transportation will adhere to safety measures, particularly during turbulence on the waterways,” she said, insisting that “time has also come for passengers to take responsibility, listen and obey boat crew when emergencies or turbulence occur.”

“Sadly, some passengers go into frenzy and panic mood, triggering fearful alarm and causing bedlam leading to avoidable deaths,” she agonised.

According to the manager, detailed takeoff protocols, pre-boarding checks and physical inspection of use of life jackets are to be introduced.

She said that unscheduled and random checks of boats to ascertain their seaworthiness would also be part of the new safety measures.
“The new dawn will be implemented to the letter with passengers addressed in English, Pigin English and the three major dialects – Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa before takeoff.

“We are going to step up our awareness programme for stakeholders in this month of August and beyond. We are determined to arrest this situation and hereby enjoin all hands to be on the deck,” Braimah said.

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