The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has urged boat operators and ferry service providers to adhere to safety rules and regulations to avoid accidents.
Mrs Elsie Egwuatu, Head of Marine Operations, NIWA, made the appeal at the training of the Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association of Nigeria (WABOTAN) on Saturday in Lagos.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that 120 boat operators and ferry service providers received training and certificates on safety on the inland waterways.
Egwuatu said that adherence to the rules and regulations safety would ensure the safety of all concerned on the waterways.
“If we don’t train them, don’t blame them because if they don’t know what is expected of them, there is no way they can adhere to the safety rules and regulations on the waterways.
“WABOTAN just came on board and I must say that they hit the ground running, their efforts to impact society are commendable.
“NIWA is always desirous of keeping the waterways accident free, we are ready to collaborate with anybody or association that is keeping into this endeavours as safety is everybody’s business both regulators, operators and the passengers,” she said.
Egwuatu advised other associations to bring up initiatives that would impact society noting that most of the accidents that happen on our waterways are caused by human errors.
“If we can catch operators for them to know what is expected of them on the waterways, we will be able to achieve the safety we are clamouring for,” she said.
Also, Mr Patrick Ike, the Assistant Director, District Surveyor, of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), said that the programme was supposed to address some greater problems of mishaps on the country’s waterways.
“Unfortunately, when we that are supposed to come and enlighten the operators to imbibe the safety culture in them are called we don’t attend, at the end of the day, we blame some of these mishaps on negligence, incompetence.
“We that have the key and suppose to do something about this are not doing so, what do we expect, the rate of the mishap will still continue.
“I give WABOTAN kudos for organising this and charge them not to relent, they should include all agencies and stakeholders the next time they are hosting the training to ensure safety on the waterways,” he said.
Mr Damilola Emmanuel, General Manager, of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), said that they are happy to support any intiatives that would bring the development of inland waterways.
According to Emmanuel, the training will help prevent possible incidents of mishaps on the waterways and equip the operators with the skills and necessary knowledge needed.
“When WABOTAN was starting operation, I told them that they need to ensure that they put their money where their mouth is, ensure that they do all they have said they will do.
“It gives me great joy that it has not been up to two months and they are doing this initiative,” he said.
He pointed out that on their part, LASWA had partnered with Yamaha to train boat operators.
“We have the emergency and control room, we also go to jetties and ensure that we carry out different sensitsation programme for them rather than calling them together to train them,” he said.
Mr Ngozi Njoku, Commandant of, the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA) Fire Service, noted that the hunger to do things right and professionally should be the concern of all participants in the training.
“Improve yourself daily, whatever you learn today should be praticalised so that it becomes part and parcel of your system of operations,” Njoku said.
Also, Mr Sunday Avoseh, President, of Seaman’s branch, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria (MWUN), noted that there was nothing as dangerous as working with an untrained worker, applauding the association for the training.
“For our waterways to be safe, all stakeholders must be involved in this training as this will ensure boat owners have peace of mind, and workers and passengers are also secured on the waterway.
“We all witness what happens on our waterways, accidents and so curbing this is what we are doing today by this training,” he said.
President of WABOTAN, Comrade Tope Fajemirokun, said that the exercise was necessary because of the usual rush of the ember months in water transportation and the attendant mishaps.
“We are in the ember months now, and it is believed in some quarters that accidents usually increase in December but we don’t pray for it to happen.
“So, we want to create safety awareness for our members and place them on high alert,” he said.