As part of efforts to curb the menace of boat accidents and consequent loss of lives, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), on Monday, visited some riverine communities, sensitising them on the newly gazetted Transport Code of the Federal Government, and its implication for errant jetty owners, boat operators as well as boat passengers.

The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr Sarat Braimah, who led the visit, revealed that the new legislation is part of the government’s effort to curb the incessant loss of lives occasioned by non-compliance with waterways regulation.

According to the NIWA Lagos Area Manager, “The Ministry of Justice has just gazetted a new waterway regulation which stipulates 7 years imprisonment for community leaders who operate jetties at night as well as private operators where boats are overloaded once it’s after 7 pm. The same penalty goes for operators and passengers who fail to use life-jackets and are non-compliant to waterways regulation.”

During the tour, Engr Sarat Braimah directed the seizure of substandard life jackets found at a retail store in the Sagbo-Koji community, one of the communities visited during the tour.

While donating authentic life jackets to the communities, the NIWA boss also seized the opportunity to differentiate between fake or sub-standard life jackets and standard ones.

Speaking at Sagbo-Koji, one of the riverine communities visited, Braimah said: “We are here to rub minds with your community in order to curb boat accidents and incessant loss of lives. You can tell us where the government has lapses so we can improve, while we work together to remove the human problems. Most boat accidents are result of human elements which is non-compliance to regulations.

“We have repeated it severally that there should be no night sailing from 7 pm. It is better to stay alive and travel the next day than to endanger your life at night. Boat drivers should have licenses because training is key. Don’t patronize unregistered boats and unnamed boats. There will be NIWA stickers to identify the registered boat.” Addressing boat drivers, she warned them not to drive boats without paddles as they would be unable to ferry such boats to the nearest shore if the boat engine suddenly fails.

Amvic’s SilveRbord