By Adeleye Ajayi
Lagos – Mr Ganiyu Balogun, the President of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), has advised other operators to avoid night travel on waterways due to inadequate signs and illumination.
Balogun, who gave the advice in an interview with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) on Thursday in Lagos, said “ we do not have that rapid response we have on the land on water.’’
He said travelling after 8 p.m. was dangerous, noting that a boat captain might not get any assistance in case of a mishap.
“ We have not reached the stage that we would be using boats at night. We should try as much as possible to avoid night travel on water.
“ There are no signs and illumination on the water to know if an area is dangerous.
“ It is not like the road that you put on full light. If you put on full light in the water, the reflector will not let you see anything,’’ he said.
Balogun, who is the Managing Director, Gani Tarzan Marine Enterprises Nigeria Ltd., said boat operators could only use navigation lights at night.
“During the Harmattan when the weather is really foggy, you cannot see beyond five metres from where you are. That is the time you need navigational aid.
“The Global Positioning System (GPS) should be on your boat but not everybody can afford it yet.
“Even in countries that can afford the GPS, there are still navigable signs on the water that direct the boats and as the captain is going, he is seeing the signs,’’ the boat operator said.
Balogun, however, admitted that boat mishap had reduced, saying that water transportation in Nigeria was now safe.
“It is just the wrecks or obstruction on the waterways that cause the accidents.
“Most Nigerians are scared of water. It is necessity that makes some Nigerians travel on water.
“In case of the unexpected, everybody will tilt to one side and such a boat could capsize,’’ he said.
To ensure adequate safety, he said passengers should request for life jackets from boat captains before getting into boats.
Balogun commended both the Lagos State Government and the Federal Government for the safety measures adopted on waterways.
He also said that cases of missing or stolen boats were no longer rampant.
Balogun, who is also into boat building, said he had constructed floating jetties as well as floating barges to convey cars and trucks across water ways.
He recalled that he learnt the boat business through his late father who lived in Tarkwa Bay.
“I am really in love with water. I started this business as far back as three decades ago.
“ My father had a boat which he used to transport himself wherever he wanted to go and sometimes to assist villagers.
“From there, he bought another one and started commercial boat transportation.
“My father is late now but he gave me a lot of encouragement, assistance and support with what I am doing today,” he said. (NAN)