By Cliffsimeon Akalonu
The Lagos Zonal Office of the National Inland Water Ways Authority (NIWA), recently impound a private passenger boat on Lagos lagoon, conveying school children from Tarkwa Bay to Osborne, for a school event.
Speaking to news men in a press conference, the Lagos Zonal Manager, Alhaji Muazu Sambo, said that, the most shocking part of the whole act was that, none of the school children wore a life jacket on the open boat, stating that a standard approved life jacket is an essential requirement for water transportation and that its use is mandatory because it is the only tool that helps to ensure the survival of lives in the unfortunate event of a mishap.
“This incident is as a gross travesty of the campaigns we have been doing, which could have been the avoidable loss of precious young Nigerian lives, as nobody can rule out the possibility of a mishap occurring on any trip at any given time”, Sambo said.
He said that NIWA places a very high premium on the safety of lives on water. “We have been carrying out sensitization programs and tours to all passenger jetties in Lagos on safety, with particular emphasis on the use of life jackets amongst other requirements.
“I am sounding this as a warning to all operators, that on no account, should any one ignore the use of life jackets on the waters and as a matter of order, I mandate all operators to wear passengers life jackets on the bench while waiting to be ferried and if any one refuses to wear it, he or she should be refunded his/her money”, he said.
He added that “with this note, the operator and driver of the impounded boat will be charged to court under extant laws, so as to serve as a deterrence to other operators in the water transportation industry.
“National Inland Waterways Authority will not relent in this determination to monitor, control and do routine inspection to the activities on the inland waterways and we also seek maximum lawful penalties for those who violate safety measures on the waterways because we have lost so many lives from boat mishaps and every necessary steps must be taken to protect further loss of lives on our waterways”.
Sambo commended the marine police for being up and doing in making sure that security, safety, and protection of lives on the water ways is met with and “I also solicit the support of all Nigerians, especially the stakeholders in the water transportation sub-sector and all relevant bodies including the media to support the authority in its campaign toward safety on the waterways”.