The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has attributed the rising cases of boat mishaps on Nigerian waters to illegal boat operations, night travels, inappropriate boats and lack of use of life jackets.
The Managing Director, NIWA, Dr. George Moghalu stated this at a press briefing in Abuja.
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He said over 80 per cent of the boat capsizes that have happened occurred at night or early hours of the morning when visibility is poor yet the boats have no capacity for night operations.
He said in spite of NIWA’s advocacy against night travels on the water with small boats, Nigerians, especially market people still indulge in the risky acts.
Be said NIWA has also stepped up investments in building standard jetties, procurement of standard boats and procurement of life jackets, a lot of Nigerians still patronise illegal jetties without regard for safety protocols.
“Boat mishaps are unfortunate and embarrassing incidents and it is horrified to hear of the series of mishaps suffered by Nigerians.” He noted.
Moghalu said “Boat mishaps are mainly as a result of mechanical, human and natural factors such as overloading, careless driving, over speeding, negligence, turbulent weather, wreckages, use of the old wooden boat, tree stumps, snags, night sailing, untrained boat drivers and flagrant disregard for safety regulations, most especially sailing in the night and lack of usage of life jackets. Another factor is the closure of village markets in the evening, which results in night journey” he noted.
He however said NIWA being the regulator of the Inland Waterways Transportation System has initiated measures aimed at addressing the menace of boat mishaps in Nigeria, Including the training and certification of boat drivers nationwide with a view to ensuring professionalism, regular safety awareness and sensitisation campaigns across the country. This is in addition to regular security and compliance patrols on the waterways by the team of NIWA police and mariners.”