Life jackets on Lagos waters are fake – NIWA

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Life jackets on Lagos waters are fake – NIWA

Abiola Seun    |  

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said that most life jackets used by passengers onboard boats and ferries are fake.

Speaking yesterday, the Area Manager, Lagos Office, Engr. Sarat Braimah said the Authority had confiscated and destroyed fake life jackets used by passengers.

She said the reports on fake life jackets is real,  saying  the agency  is stepping up its efforts to stem the use of fake life jackets.

Her words, “Truly, some of them (life jackets) are fake”, she said. 
She assured that as a counter measure, the agency is confiscating them even as those behind are being trailed for possible prosecution.

“But recently, you notice that we have been seizing life jackets. If you go to our jetty now, you will see bundles of life jackets that are being burnt. We do that daily. 
“So, the use of fake jackets has reduced drastically. We have somebody we are partnering with at every jetty,  renting real life jackets at a token so that we standardize all life jackets in Lagos State.

The Area Manager also attributed illiteracy among boat operators as one of the biggest factors fuelling boat mishaps on Lagos brown water.

She said the Area office has designed a programme to make boat captains familiar with the codes of modern boat operations and what they must as do as captains to reduce or even eliminate accidents on the waterways.

Braimah recalled the level of concern among members of the public, especially those who commute on the waterways over the recent spike in boat mishap cases in Lagos and other areas.

“Most boat pilots are not schooled” she regretted.
“We are designing a new curriculum whereby they will be taught in different languages and local dialects such as Ilaje, Egun, Yoruba, Igbo, etc.
” We want to go down deep into their roots, give them lectures in the languages they will understand. 
“Their major problem is even how to caution first-timers when they enter their boats. 
“When you have somebody that is entering the boat for the first time, there are things they should know.”

On the last incident that happened in Kirikiri, she explained that investigation showed that it was a result of engine problem and attempts by the boat captain to transload midstream.

“What happened was that the guy had engine problem. He called for help and the help came. They wanted to transload. But because people (the passengers) were already panicking, they stood up all at the same time. That tilted the boat. That was why the incident happened. 
“Unfortunately, the boat parked very close to a barge. So, most of them went under the barge. So, recovering them became very difficult.”

“That is why we said that a curriculum will be set by the end of August. We want to formally take all of them (the boat captains) to a school, train them on what and what they should tell passengers in their own dialects.
” We want to put our safety staff on board.

She counseled passengers not to panic but remain calm and take instructions from the boat captain at all times.

“When you are in the boat, don’t panic; when this happens, this is what you are supposed to do, etc. If you are wearing a life jacket, you will definitely float at least for an hour and rescue will surely come”.

She disclosed that to ensure easy availability of rescue teams in case of any mishap, NIWA has posted three boats to three locations with specialists in rescue operations on-board. 
“We have one at Ikorodu to Ebute Ero and they are plying regularly. We have another one at the Kirikiri axis. We have another one at Victoria Island. 
“The idea is to ensure that rescue will be easy if anything happens. We have search- and- rescue teams now permanently on ground so that when there is a mishap, they will call and rescue will be easy”.

Giving further insights into the nuisance boat captains are creating in the system, Braimah said: “we have done what we call safety rules on waterways.
” We want to invite all boat owners, tell them what and what to expect from each captain on the boats. 
“This will guide them to know the kind of persons they will employ as captains to drive their boats”, she concluded.


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