Capsizing: Stakeholders in Lagos, South-South call for continuous training, provision of facilities – a survey

In Lagos, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) have renewed their commitment to end waterways mishaps in the state.

 

In view of the recent boat capsizing in some states, stakeholders and operators in the country’s waterways are calling for continuous training of boat captains to curb boat mishaps.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that some coastal states have been experiencing boat capsizing recently due to lack of maintenance, irregular removal of weeds, wrecks and other impediments from the waterways.
Also lack of proper dredging and channelization of waterways and non-implementation of waterways codes are some other causes of boat capsizing.
Others attributed boat capsizing to perennial flooding, which mostly affect states such as Lagos, Kogi, Niger, Rivers, Oron in Akwa-Ibom, Kebbi and Benue.
In Lagos, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) have renewed their commitment to end waterways mishaps in the state.
The Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Mrs Sarat Braimoh, said that continuous training of boat captains and licensing them to drive professionally would curb waterways mishaps in the state
Braimoh said that NIWA was already engaging boat and ferry captains in training on quarterly basis, particularly in the southern parts of the country.
“We are about commencing training for ferries and boats captain in the northern parts. We also hold regular safety awareness and sensitisation campaigns across parts of the country.
“NIWA also carries out regular security and compliance patrols on the waterways also our authority has established nine Search and Rescue stations.
“Our authority will establish more Search and Rescue stations this year, across various locations in Lagos, Lokoja, Port Harcourt, Yauri, New Bussa, just to mention a few.
“These stations are intended, not only to prevent but to respond immediately and provide timely rescue.’’
Braimoh said that collaboration with NiMET was very key in sharing information as to the vagaries of the weather which would help prevent sailing in bad weather.
Also speaking, the General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel said that continuous removal of wrecks and impediments from the waterways would stem boat capsizing in Lagos.
Emmanuel explained that LASWA usually engaged boat and ferry captains as well as deckhands in quality training and retraining with proper dredging, channelisation of waterways routes, implementation of the waterways safety code.
The LASWA chief said that the agency also engaged in the continuous clearing of water hyacinth in the Lagos waterways.
Emmanuel said that fixed or handheld GPS, Port and Seaboard lights as well as Boat Radar would assist boat operators to enable them navigate efficiently on the waters.
The general manager said that it was possible for LASWA to collaborate with Nigerian Meteorological Agency to create awareness on the weather to guide operators against flooding and boat capsizing.
“The Lagos State Government is engaging both government and local boat builders in training in line with industry best practices,” he said.
He said agency would sanction and prosecute owners of abandoned logs, wrecks, fishing nets and impediments.
Emmanuel said there were also sanctions for dredging operators who do not totally submerge their dredging pipes, which in turn causes boat capsizing.
“To address the problem of boat capsizing, LASWA is engaging in constant wreck and impediment removal across the waterways in the state.
“LASWA is also involved in Manual and Equipment Clearing of Water hyacinth workshop, sensitisation and training of ferry/Boat captains.
“Others are the deckhand on emergency/incident reporting, dredging and channelization of waterways routes.”
Emmanuel said it had also established Search and Rescue units with well-trained officers and community sensitisation programmes to enlighten riverine residents on the dangers of dumping refuse and fishing nets on the waterways.
In the South-South, boat operators have appealed to State governments in the zone to ensure periodic evacuation of water hyacinths on the water channels to reduce incidents of boat capsizing.
They urged the state governments to constitute bodies to carry out the task of clearing the channels of debris of sunk boats, engines and metals to prevent boat mishaps.
The Chairman of Godspower Jetty in Warri, Delta, Mr Timi Cletus said that some boat drivers lost control of their vessels while trying to navigate waters covered by water hyacinths and this often resulted in mishaps.
“The issue of water hyacinths is a major challenge in our business.
“It’s a challenge in the sense that some boat drivers try to avoid the hyacinths and in the process lose control or collide with objects,” he said.
Another boat operator, Mr Temisan Omatseye urged the state government to assist in the enforcement of rules and regulations guiding water transportation.
“Some of us do not obey the rules guiding boat business. They drive recklessly.
“There should also be periodic reorientation of boat drivers by the state government and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on need to avoid recklessness,” said.
Also, Mr Ezekiel Opukeme, a resident, urged the state government to provide boat operators with enough safety jackets to save lives of passengers and crew in case of mishaps.
A respondent in Port Harcourt, Rivers, Mr Ebi Theo said government was not concerned about the plight of boat operators.
He urged government to strengthen synergy with subsectors in the maritime industry to prevent boat mishaps through training, certification, provision of safety equipment and sanitation on the waterways.
“Debris of sunk boats, engines and metals could also be disastrous in event of collusion.
“Government should supervise relevant authorities handling sanitation on our right of ways to enhance free navigation,” he said.
A traditional leader in Asarama, a riverside community in Rivers, Chief Asuk-Okpon, suggested weekly orientation programme for boat drivers by the maritime authority.
Asuk-Okpon said such programmes would enable them to understand peculiarities in weather conditions within stipulated time.

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“Drivers should know that during rainy season, especially there is need for collaboration with the Nigerian Meteorological Agency (NIMET) on weather reports.
“Sadly, boat operators here have yet to embrace technology in their operations; they are still using local and crude methods thereby exposing passengers to avoidable accidents,” he said.
In Yenagoa, Bayelsa, another boat operator Mr Ebimie Tonye, said boat capsized most times because of over loading, presence of debris on waterways and night travel.
Tonye said that capsizing and falling over board could be minimised if boat operators adhered to maritime regulations.
He called on government to ensure periodic clearing of water channels to minimise boat mishaps and loss of lives.
In his part, the Marine Transport Chairman, Nembe, Mr Ebinyo Alagoa, also identified over speeding as one of the causes of boat mishaps, and cautioned against it to prevent such ugly occurrences.Mrs Eunice Ezeoke, President, Women’s International Shipping and Trading Association (WISTA) called for proper regulation of the water transport business to stem the recurring boat capsizing in the country.
Ezeoke said “for one to operate passenger boat or ferry, one must be certified, there must be proper training and certification and certification should not be just a one-off thing.’’
“This training can be done yearly to ensure that the operator still remember what its doing and operate with standard
“The regulatory body must always inspect the boat, its engine and others to make sure the craft was in good shape.
“There must be regular maintenance, proper and working lifejacket for passengers and two, three minutes talk as done with the boat in case of issues arising on what needs to be done should be instilled,” she said.
Rev. Jonathan Nicole, a shipper and maritime stakeholder urged the regulating authority for water transportation to ensure standards were being observed in the business.
Nicole pointed out that the boats that some of the operators were using were not fit for human transportation leading to some boat capsizing.

 

 

(NAN)

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