The Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transportation (ATBOWATON) has solicited the support of marine police to monitor and arrest any boat captain travelling after the 6pm prescribed deadline for water transportation in the State.
Speaking with SHIPS & PORTS, Lagos State Chapter Chairman of the association, Lawal Babatunde, said the association was concerned about the incessant boat mishaps, which he noted occurs mostly during night travels.
While commiserating with the families of the victims of the recent boat mishap in Lagos State, Babatunde urged passengers to endeavour to always leave their location on time to catch up with the boat before the 6pm deadline.
“The authorities said we should operate from 6am to 6pm but some of the jetty controllers will be calling our boys after 6pm in the evening that there are passengers at a particular jetty, which is already against the law given by the regulators. Most of the passengers have the numbers of the operators, when they now come late, they will be calling them. Now we have already told the marine police that anybody that they see after that hour, they should get them arrested.
“We have gotten their assurance that they will start arresting any defiant boat operators who travels after 6pm except in case of emergency. The major problem we have is our passengers. After 6pm, they will still be calling the boat captains because they have their numbers and we cannot be everywhere at the same time to monitor them.
“The one that happened on July 3rd, it was the passengers that called the boat from Ikorodu to come down to Ebute Ero around 8pm to pick them which is not safe,” he said.
He said the association has also concluded arrangements on regular training of boat captains to meet with the operating standards.
“We have now agreed with the boat owners that at least one or twice in a month, the drivers will be trained even if you know it practically, you must know it theoretically so that when mishap happens, you will know what to do in order to save the lives of the passengers. When accident happens, we are also losing customers because it will create panic among those who always patronise water transportation, but if there are no accidents, it will encourage people to use our waterways,” he said.
Babatunde also said that wrecks and other forms of pollution on the waterways are posing a great challenge for effective navigation and safety of marine operators.
“We have a lot of wrecks on our waterways that is why we are saying that it is not advisable moving at night because you would not see some of the wrecks and floating logs. If it is the day time, you can easily dodge it. Even dirt on the water as small as a sachet water nylon can cause a lot of accidents on the waters. Once it holds the propeller, it will just hook it and if the passenger now moves to the side of the boat, it can capsize the boat. That is why we have been crying to the government to help us in clearing the waters,” he added.