Boat mishaps : NIWA boss, Dr. George Moghalu Rejigs strategy to promote safety of water transportation
*Begins mass sensitisation of boat operators, travelers through radio
Apparently, the Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu is bringing intelligence and fresh impetus to bear in sensitising boat operators, jetty owners, community leaders and even passengers on practical safety measures for water transportation.
Dr Moghalus demonstrated this by rejigging operational strategy of NIWA in carrying out its statutory functions effectively. For instance, NIWA under the leadership of Dr Moghalus, is currently embarking on mass sensitisation of travelers on water and boat operators using radio, which is one of the methods of transmitting information electronically to rural areas, especially riverine communities.
Speaking during interactive session with maritime Journalists in Lagos, Dr Moghalus said the new sensitisation strategy becomes imperative to prevent incessant boat mishaps across the country.
Speaking further, Dr Moghalus gave all Area Managers of NIWA a standing order to sustain the tempo of on-going sensitisation of water travelers and submit regular reports on their field activities.
The NIWA MD expressed strong displeasure about the wrong practice by some passengers boarding boats without wearing life jackets designed for safety in emergency situations, even as some travelers use expired life jackets, thereby deliberately putting their lives in danger.
Also, he stated emphatically that about 90 percent of boat mishaps often occur at night and early hours in the morning. As such, NIWA has no option than to ensure total stoppage of night traveling to avert boat accidents.
According to him : “Despite repeated warnings, some people still do not use the services of approved jetties. This has resulted in some jetties being shut down for not meeting the required safety standards for water transportation”.
Recalling recent accident as a typical example, NIWA boss said the 15 passengers who used life jackets were rescued, except just one person who was on board without life jacket.
NIWA helmsman revealed that since his assumption of office, he has been distributing live jackets regularly to 26 area offices of NIWA across Nigeria to promote safety of water transportation. Also, water hyacinths are cleared always to ensure safe navigable while on board.
On the issue of dredging, he explained that NIWA carried out dredging about seven years before he took over the mantle of leadership. At present, the Authority is still doing maintenance dredging to ensure safety on waterways.
NIWA boss appealed to media outfits to always verify reports on accidents, as well as casualties before disseminating such information to the reading public, saying that contrary to media reports of 50 lives lost in recent boat mishap, which occurred in Niger State, only one person died while others were rescued promptly.
In the same vein,
NIWA boss talked about installation of security cameras and a Control Unit to ensure surveillance of activities on waterways. He said NIWA is considering proposal from South African Company on installation of cameras and Command Control Unit for constant surveillance on waterways.
To him, with installation of cameras and Command Control centre, NIWA will be better positioned to monitor activities on inland waterways, in order to ensure rapid response to emergency situations and check sharp practices by some boat operators.
Our investigation revealed that NIWA is working tirelessly in sensitising the traveling public on safety rules for water transportation. This enlightenment exercise is going on in Lagos and other States in the country.
For instance, in Lagos State, the Area Manager, Engineer Sarat Braimah is leading NIWA’s team on large scale sensitisation exercise to riverine communities, where she is equally distributing free life jackets to boat operators, jetty owners and even community leaders.
Our correspondent following activities of NIWA in Lagos observed that so far, Engr. Sarat has sensitised boat operators at many locations in Lagos, including Irede; Ibeshe, Sagbo-Koji ; Bishop-Koji, Whalakoji and other riverine communities.