By Anthony Areh
The Lagos Area Office of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) warned boat operators henceforth deregister and withdraw operational licences of indicted operators.
The warning follows what NIWA described as the disturbing and worrisome boat accidents on Lagos Waterways in recent times.
The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Mrs Sarat Braimah, said in a statement that the company would also prosecute indicted operators.
She said the regulatory agency would no longer fold its arms and watch deviant operators doing things that would result to loss of lives.
“We have tried to provide the needed enabling environment for the operators, including training programmes to expose them to operational standards yet some have chosen the path of desperation and dangerous behaviours, leading to loss of lives and property.”
Braimah said that the company had run out of patience with recalcitrant operators, noting that no operator would go unpunished for committing any indiscretion.
She disclosed that pre-boarding formalities targeted at passengers’ awareness would now form part of the enforcement regime to help stabilize and encourage first timers.
“Those afraid of water transportation will adhere to safety measures, particularly during turbulence on the waterways.
“Time has also come for passengers to take responsibility, listen and obey boat crew when emergencies or turbulence occur.
“Sadly, some passengers go into frenzy and panic mood, triggering fearful alarm and causing bedlam leading to avoidable deaths,” she said.
According to the manager, detailed take-off protocols, pre-boarding checks and physical inspection of use of life jackets are to be introduced.
She said also that unscheduled and random checks of boats to ascertain their seaworthiness will be part of the new safety measures.
“The new dawn will be implemented to the letter with passengers addressed in English, Pigin English and the three major dialects – Igbo, Yoruba and Hausa before take-off.
“We are going to step up our awareness programme for stakeholders in this month of August and beyond. We are determined to arrest this situation and hereby enjoin all hands to be on the deck,” Braimah said.