The Association of Master Mariners (NAMM) has called on the management of Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to swing into action to check influx of people with fake certificate into barge operations.
The group also called on regulators to review and examine activities of barge operations in Nigeria to avoid people without requisite knowledge in the sector.
The group of mariners made the call at a media parley in Lagos, recently in view of the influx of tugboat saying it should conform to international best practices and safety of cargoes.
President of NAMM, Captain Tajudeen Alao, expressed fears of lack of adequate capacity to enforce and regulate the operations of barge operators.
He called on NIWA to redouble its efforts in ensuring strict enforcement on tugboat operators in the carriage of cargoes onboard barges in line with safety rules and regulations.
Captain Alao who queried the level of NIWA’s scope of responsibilities on fenders attached to jetties, noted that the authority has failed to tackle issues of safety on the inland waterways effectively due to lack of manpower.
He lamented that the operational fenders in use currently, are outdated and NIWA must not pretend to be unaware of the situation.
”Our concern is about safety of cargoes and passengers’ security and environmental protection on the waterways. This is what we are preaching. We want to know why things of this nature are not tackled.
“If you go and read NIWA’s act you will find out that NIWA has so much responsibilities but they are not competent.
” They have not built adequate capacity. They need to build pre-requisite capacity to cover the scope of their responsibilities.
The NAMM President further kicked against NIWA involvement in the scrutiny of certification for mariners noting that the Nigeria Maritime Administration, Safety Agency (NIMASA) should be the sole authority to review certification of personnel.
“There is only one ship registry in Nigeria which is domiciled in NIMASA through the Ministry of Transportation thus how can NIWA say they want to register ships?”
The NAMM boss noted that safety measures must be paramount before considering the commercial viability of cargoes and passengers for the sake of revenue generation for the government.
According to him, the agency can only issue permit to personnel and not to be seen on the registration of any form of water crafts operating in Nigerian waters to ascertain sea worthiness.
Harping on the need to be safety conscious in the line of duty, Captain Alao called on barge operators to ensure that their employees (Captains) are qualified personnel who understand the importance of safety while manning a watercraft adding that shipping business has no place for quacks.
According to him, the Nigeria Customs Service and Nigeria Maritime Administration, Safety Agency (NIMASA) and Marine Police all have major role to play in the enforcement of barge operations due to NIWA’s ineptitude.
He also called on state governments across the country to establish a marine department to assist in the area of water transportation safety
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