Non-adherence to the law prohibiting night travel on the nation’s waterways, as well as “the recklessness of the canoe operators,” who ferry passengers without live jackets, led to the death of at least 18 people in last week’s boat mishap in FESTAC Town, Lagos State, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said.
NIWA oversees jetties, rivers and their tributaries, distributaries, creeks, lakes, lagoons and all intra-coastal waterways in Nigeria.
The agency’s spokesman, Tayo Fadile, said night travel on the nation’s waterways is highly prohibited and clearly enshrined in NIWA’s enabling laws.
He said stoppage time for moving on Nigerian watersways is 6pm. He emphasised that the agency has continued to warn boat or canoe riders against violation of that law, especially because it involves human lives.
Fadile noted that if the operator of the ill-fated canoe had adhered to guidelines, the canal accident might have been averted. He further noted that the standard practice is to provide all passengers with live jackets, wondering why the people were ferried without them.
According to him, already, an Inland Waterway Safety Code is awaiting passage by the National Assembly and once signed into law, persons who subsequently violate NIWA laws would be prosecuted in court.
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