Upholding safety practices in water transportation

The fact that natural causes may not be completely ruled out of causes of accidents should not give room for excuses when it comes to maritime safety.

Of course, there is a long list of maritime disasters across the globe, with the frequency at which they happen becoming quite worrisome, both locally and internationally.

With a mindset that nothing should be left to chance, dedicated campaigns on safety, especially for domestic boat and ferry transportation is most important.

While enlightenment campaigns for safety are important, it is also very important that monitoring be done by regulatory agencies in charge of water transportation.

There have been several incidences of commercial boat mishaps that have also recorded high casualties.

Recently, accidents involving commercial ferries taking passengers from Victoria Island to Ikorodu and across the water at Amuwo-Odofin respectively claimed several lives.

Some survivors at the Victoria Island incident said that the boat carried passengers beyond its original capacity, so in the course of a strong current, controlling the boat became challenging.

Although, some other eyewitnesses said that the accident resulted from a big tree trunk that the boat ran into.

At the Amuwo-Odofin incidence where two brothers were reported as casualties, it was heavily blamed on over-loading.

It was generally remarked that the boat managers often believed that they could maneuver situations, while they were also accused of not making life jackets available to their passengers.

It just goes to the show the level of negligence on the part of the regulatory authorities that are saddled with the responsibility of ensuring that operators observe all safety regulations in the course of transporting innocent passengers.

Operators of these commercial boats are first concerned about how much they could make at a single trip than the observation of best practice and internationally acceptable standards.

Several other boat mishaps that had happened across the nation have also been blamed on over-loading the passengers and goods.

While the blame trading was on, loved ones of victims could only keep hoping for some form of compensation if they were ever given.

While faulting the regulatory organisations for negligence, Gov Babatunde Fashola of Lagos state must be highly commended for his quick response to addressing some vital matters like the provision of over 2000 life-jackets for passengers of the ferries operating in the state.

Like the maxim ‘Better late than never’ the management of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) woke up to the campaign for safety awareness in water transportation.

It recently continued with its national safety and awareness campaign in Igbokoda in Ondo State and in Lagos State after a first phase campaign that took it to Malele and Nupeko riverine areas in Niger State.

It should be noted that an ideal condition requires regulatory agencies to have mapped out sustained strategies for reaching out and educating people who use the water transportation system.

As a matter of fact, such agencies must have departments, which should be dedicated to carrying out such important assignments as primary duty.

They should be known for their continuous monitoring of operators, to ensure that their operations are carried out in line with safety standards.

They must not be compromised for any reason whatsoever with respect to ensuring that operators provide quality life jackets for every passenger on board the ferry.

Passengers should also be educated to the point where they would have a voice to speak against the dangerous practice of loading a boat beyond its capacity.

Every professional must be devoted to his job demand, particularly when providing public service. The nation must grow beyond taking action only after some innocent people must have paid the costliest price of losing their lives.

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