The action, according to the agency, is in line with the Merchant Shipping Act of 2007 which requires it to regulate the operations of non-convention vessels.
Speaking at the official flag-off of the distribution in Warri, Delta State, Director General of NIMASA, Mr. Patrick Akpobolokemi, said that the materials would assist the operators reduce loss of lives from boat accidents.
The NIMASA boss who was represented by the agency’s Director of Administration and Personnel Services, Mr. Chuks Mgbemena, noted that the action was necessary to help reduce the trend of deaths arising from drowning of victims of boat accidents.
“There have been several cases of deaths from drowning by victims of boat accidents because very basic safety precautions such as wearing life vests onboard were not adhered to. As a responsible organization, NIMASA has procured life jackets for use by passengers to forestall further occurrence of these deaths”, Mr. Mgbemena said.
Mgbemena also said that the agency had procured vessels to combat piracy and sea robbery. He said platforms for fighting criminal activities on the waters in Warri zone were ready, assuring that criminal activities would soon become a thing of the past as NIMASA is ready to tackle it head-on.
While sensitizing boat operators along the nation’s coastline in Warri, the NIMASA boss urged them to desist from night driving, noting that their boats were not fitted with lights or navigational equipment. The operators were also warned of the dangers of over-speeding and reckless driving which have been identified as the major causes of accidents and to cultivate the culture of proper maintenance of their boats.
Receiving the materials on behalf of the boat operators, the Chairman of the Warri Unit of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Yakubu Biukeme, thanked NIMASA for its commitment in ensuring safety of lives and property on the waterways.
NIMASA procured and distributed life jackets and work vests to over 500 small craft operators in Pessu market jetty and the Government Riverside jetty in Warri South Local Government Area of Delta State.
Distribution of the safety materials, according to NIMASA’s Head of Public Affairs, Isichie Osamgbi, would be extended to operators of non-convention vessels in Ondo, Niger, Benue and Anambra States.