The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) said that it has commenced a total clampdown on barge and tugboat operators using fake license.
Speaking against the backdrop of concerns raised by industry stakeholders over the influx of people with fake certificates in barge operation, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. Sarat Buraimoh, said any barge or boat that fails to meet the operational certification will henceforth be impounded.
She said that NIWA has also commenced a 24 hours patrol surveillance of the waterways to ensure compliance and that only people who meet requisite qualifications are allowed to operate.
“Last year December, we had a stakeholders meeting and we told them that by January this year, we will start the enforcement. Any barge operator or tugboat that is operating with fake license will be impounded. We have started. We have increased on our patrols because it is through that we will know those who are not compliant. Our patrols now are 24 hours,” she told SHIPS & PORTS.
She said the agency is partnering with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the marine police to enforce compliance.
Reacting to a broken down barge sighted by SHIPS & PORTS on the waterways between Ijora and Apagbon, Buraimoh said it was not a new barge but a wreck that was removed under the water.
“It is not a new barge but we know it can cause accident that is why we insisted that it must be removed so the removal process is still on, and that is why it is at Ijora now. They will take it off any moment from now,” she said.
The NIWA Lagos Area Manager called on barge operators to make safety their watchword especially at this time when attention is being shifted to the movement of containers by barges in Lagos due to the Apapa traffic gridlock.
The Nigerian Association of Master Mariners had last week expressed worry over the influx of people with fake certificates in barge operations.
The President of NAMM, CaptainTajudeen Alao, urged NIWA to redouble its efforts in ensuring strict enforcement on tugboat operators in the carriage of cargoes onboard barges in line with safety rules and regulations.