By Salome Columba
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has reiterated its warning to boat operators to shun night operations beyond 7 pm.
The Managing Director of the authority, Dr George Moghalu, issued the warning at a media interactive session with transport correspondents in Lagos over the weekend.
Moghalu said the authority had constituted a waterways task force to arrest any boat operators operating beyond the stipulated time.
The NIWA boss said the Task Force comprised the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency (NDLEA), Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), barge operators, Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, and the Marine Police.
According to him, studies by the authority shows that most boat accidents occur either at night or early in the morning adding that the practice must stop.
He said “hat is part of the regulation we are putting in place, we are more concerned about people’s lives, check the history of accidents even in ferries.
“You find out that over 90 per cent of accident happens in the early hours of the morning or in night and most of these vessels do not have navigational lights.
“On our own parts, we are laying buoys, trying to put navigational aids on the waterways but at the same time, we are appealing to residents in the Riverine communities to ensure the safety of this navigational equipment.
“We have come to see that vandals, thieves destroy this navigational equipment and make away with them,” he said.
Moghalu said the authority would sanction offenders of laws regulating the use of the waterways.
According to him, the Task Force has the mandate to arrest people, sanction people, and prosecute people, it is no more business as usual. There must be sanity on our waterways.
He, however, said that NIWA would continue to encourage boat operators to do the right thing and reduce the incessant boat mishap on waterways by adhering to safety regulations as stipulated by it.