The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has reiterated its commitment to continue to ensure the safety of all passengers and crew on its waterways.

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Speaking on the backdrop of a boat mishap which occurred in Apapa enroute Badagry, last Wednesday with some casualties, General Manager of LASWA, Damilola Emmanuel said it was unfortunate that the incident occurred despite the reforms the agency has carried out in recent times to ensure safety on its waterways.

He said among other things, the agency has recruited more water guards and also organised capacity building for existing water guards, while also deploying volunteers from safety commission to Jetties and Landings.

The LASWA Boss added that the agency is prioritising the certification of boat captains and deckhands with Federal Agencies and is also setting up a Public Private Partnership (PPP) for boat gantry as well as a boat inspection centre.

“Our major priority in LASWA is the safety of all stakeholders and this includes every single passenger and crew member and there are many steps we have taken in the last one year under the able leadership of Mr. Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu to ensure that we curb the incident of boat mishaps.

“We have continued to ensure that every passenger on board our boats puts on a life jacket and we have stepped up sensitization, awareness, and enlightenment campaigns on the importance of this. Also we have installed safety and directional signages to other locations on the waterways to aid easy movement of boats on our waters.

“Our agency has also installation of navigational buoys to other waterways routes, upgraded emergency and rescue system in the three divisions of the state and also established waterways monitoring and data centres.

Amongst other things, Emmanuel said LASWA now boasts of waterways GIS System for 15 Routes, partnership with the Lagos State Waste Management Authority (LAWMA) and Food and Beverage Recycling Alliance (FBRA) towards clean-up of plastic wastes on the waterways and regular clearing and recycling of Water Hyacinths across the inland waterways.

Besides, he said LASWA also has a strong partnership with Lagos State Safety Commission and Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) to respond swiftly and efficiently to safety and emergency operations.

He said while LASWA remains committed to ensuring zero-tolerance for non-adherence to safety rules on its waterways, it was not unaware of the possibility of some boat captains to cut corners and flout these guidelines for selfish reasons.

“We know we are not yet 100 percent where we want to be, but we are confident that we are not where we used to be before. There is obvious progress and Lagosians can testify and that is why there is a surge in the number of persons who now subscribe to water transportation to move from one part of the State to another.

“The present administration under our amiable governor is also committed to ensuring that water transportation in the State is opened up for a greater Lagos. Transportation is one of the THEMES agenda of Mr. Governor and LASWA is key to achieving the objectives,” Emmanuel said.

It would be recalled that the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) recently called on the Lagos state government to sack the management of LASWA owing to recent frequent water transport mishaps.

In a related development, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has threatened to revoke the licence of boat operators who indulge in sharp practices,