To ensure the safety of users of its Lagos domain, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) yesterday donated 320 life jackets to boat operators registered with its Lagos Area Office.
The management team of NIWA has been on a safety and awareness campaign tour of the nation’s waterway areas of operation having visited Malale and Nupeko in Niger State, and Igbakoda in Ondo State already.
Visiting Lagos yesterday, the NIWA Managing Director/CEO, Hajia Inna Maryam Ciroma, and her team distributed life jackets and other informative materials to drive home the authority’s commitment to ensuring the safety of lives and property on the nation’s waterways.
During her speech, Ciroma said that the donations became necessary to stem the tides of boat mishaps in Lagos state in particular and other affected areas in the country.
She urged waterway users to be safety alert and conscious by adhering strictly to the rules and regulations of NIWA.
“In a nutshell our message to both operators and passengers using boats and canoes in Lagos is simple. Please always life jackets before boarding a boat, canoe or ferry. Boat operators should avoid carrying excess passengers. Any locally made boat above ten years must be replaced. Only trained and certified captains should operate ferries and boats” she stated.
The NIWA boss emphatically warned against using the waterways after 6 pm noting that the several accidents in Lagos were recorded after 6 pm.
She also warned against the consumption of alcohol before and after a boat ride even as she cautioned boat operators against over speeding.
Ciroma stressed that all ferries, boats and canoes must be registered with NIWA Area Office in Lagos to operate legally.
President of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transport of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), Ganiyu Balogun, who received the gifts of life jackets and other materials on behalf of its members, thanked the NIWA management team for their magnanimity.
Balogun said that life jackets are vital for safe water way usage even as he solicited for more of the jackets for boat operators in Lagos state.
“I wish to say a big thank you for the life jacket donation today. This is an essential commodity in water transportation. I always equate life jackets to propellers or tyres without which the boat or vehicle cannot move” he said.
He assured that members of his association would ensure that all passengers aboard their boats must be made to wear life jackets throughout a boat ride.
The boat operators’ president however appealed to the NIWA management to ensure that waterway’s safety and awareness campaign are held more frequently.
“I wish to thank the NIWA MD and the entire management for this event that is long overdue. No doubt safety is the responsibility of everybody but it becomes imperative for the government (NIWA) to ensure the safety of water users through safety policies and campaigns, I appeal that this kind of event shoul hold very often, if not monthly.
Daily radio jingle should also be arranged by NIWA to be aired on our local radio and TV stations for safety awareness of all boat/water users” Balogun stated.
Speaking with journalists on the sidelines of the event, the NIWA boss had expressed delight with the favorable court judgments the authority had received so far concerning its dispute with the Lagos State government over the control rights of the nation’s waterways.
“Aggrieved Nigerians went to court and court proclamations on that. And the courts said that the state government has no business regulating inland waterways in this country. And that is where we stand! As far as we are concerned, no state government to regulate on our inland waters because from the inlands up to our borders belong to the federal government of Nigeria and NIWA has the responsibility and mandate to regulate inland waters” she told journalists on the sidelines of the event” Ciroma told the newsmen