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Boat mishap: NIWA bans night voyage on Lagos water

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Abiola Seun After recurrent boat mishaps claiming over 21 lives in one week, the Lagos area office of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), has banned night voyage on Lagos Waterways, saying most boat mishaps occur at early hours or late at night.Speaking when she led NIWA officials to some riverine communities for sensitization programme, the Lagos area manager, NIWA, Engr. Sarat Braimah, reiterated that NIWA has banned night sailing beyond 7pm.The Lagos Area Manager, who donated authentic life-jackets at the communities, also seized the opportunity to differentiate between fake, substandard life-jackets and standard ones.Speaking at Sagbo Koji, one of the riverine communities visited, Braimah said: “We are here to rub minds with your community in order to curb boat accidents and consequent loss of lives. You can tell us where the government has lapses so we can improve, while we work together to remove the human element problems. Most boat accidents are results of human element which is non-compliance to regulations.”“We have repeated it severally that there should be no night sailing from 7pm. It is better to stay alive and travel the next day than to endanger your life at night. I’m pleading with the three Baales here to help us achieve this.
“Boat drivers should have licenses because training is key. Don’t patronize unregistered boats and unnamed boats. There will be NIWA stickers to identify registered boat.”She, however, disclosed that NIWA has gotten a new law to mete out 7-year imprisonment to owners of jetties where boat operators violate regulations.According to Braimah, the new legislation is part of government’s effort to curb the incessant loss of lives ocassioned by non-compliance to waterway regulations.“The Ministry of Justice has gazetted a new waterway regulation which stipulates 7 years imprisonment for community leaders who operate jetties as well as private operators where boats are overloaded.
“The same penalty goes for operators and passengers who fail to use life-jackets and other non-compliance to waterway regulations,” the NIWA Area Manager said.During the tour, Engr. Sarat Braimah, directed the seizure of substandard life-jackets found at retail stores around the communities even as she described substandard life-jackets to be as deadly as fake drugs.Addressing boat drivers, she warned them not to drive boats without paddles as they would be unable to ferry such boats to the nearest shore if the boat engine suddenly fails.
Some of the community leaders, Baale Anthony Avime, Sagbo Koji; Baale Houeto Bernard, Whla Koji and Baale Sohome Bishop Koji commended NIWA for the sensitization visit.Meanwhile, the Community Youth Leader at Sagbo Koji, Mr. Bobby Sanni advised the Authority to include youths in their taskforce because most police officers and NIWA operatives close from jetties at 6pm but the youths could help spotlight nocturnal operations.In her response, the NIWA Area Manager assured that the Authority would partner the youths in the community to achieve its mandate, even as she led the NIWA team to the Irede community around Abule-Osun, and Ibeshe community for the sensitization campaign.Other misnomers pointed out by the NIWA boss in boat operations include; dangerous driving and over-speeding, driving rickety and leaky boats, passenger manifest violation, non-availability of fire extinguisher, driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs, fighting at jetties, obstructing and assault of taskforce on duty.She also gave out emergency numbers of the Authority to community leaders and boat operators at the different communities.

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