By Chiazo Ogbolu
Lagos – The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), says it will go tougher with untrained and uncertified boat skippers, who often ignored safety procedures and endanger the passengers’ lives.
Its Director-General of NIMASA, Dr Bashir Jamoh, made the assertion while receiving Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), in his office.
Jamoh, in a statement in Lagos on Sunday, after the latter’s visit, said the directive was against the background of recent fatal boat mishaps on the nation’s inland waterways.
The general manager also suggested the development of cohesive safety enforcement guidelines and regulations for implementation across the littoral states.
He said the harmonisation of standards and procedures for safety in the territorial waters would go a long way in minimising unsafe practices by operators of non-conventional vessels, which were not subject to international standards, but rely mainly on national regulations.
“We have a number of boat skippers that are not trained and not knowledgeable enough and they do not have certification. They only know how to maneuver the boat and risk people’s lives.
“We will now start to check that. The issue is important, that is why I will start to take it more seriously, because charity begins at home.
“If we have enforcement officers and they are laid back, they will continue to watch what is happening without doing anything.
“I am glad to see the synergy and collaboration that is developing with the Lagos State Waterways Authority, because we all have, as our common mandate, the job of ensuring safety on our waters,” he said.
Jamoh said the Federal Ministry of Transportation was also in the process of building unified enforcement guidelines for safety in the country’s waters.
He urged greater supervision of officers engaged in the enforcement of safety standards.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that we monitor and supervise the staff members that are given the responsibility of enforcing the issue of safety at sea.
“Safety procedures, such as availability of adequate lifejackets, good condition of the boat, and time of use, must be verified by enforcement officers before a boat sets sail,” he said.
In his remarks, the LASWA General Manager promised to intensify information sharing between his agency and NIMASA as part of the efforts to improve collaboration for maritime safety.
“We have the database of small craft, which I believe that we will be ready to share with NIMASA,” Emmanuel said.
On the importance of uniform enforcement procedure, the general manager said he was really excited that this was happening, because overtime what they generally tend to see on the waterways was an overlap of so many functions.
“I am sure it is not news to anyone here the issues we have had over the years between LASWA and NIWA (National Inland Waterways Authority), and how that has affected the things that have happened on the waterways,” he said.