NIWA MD commiserate with Govt, People and families of Lagos, Benue Boat Mishaps

The management of the National Inland Waterways Authority has warned boat operators to adhere strictly to NIWA safety guidelines or be sanctioned

The authority gave the warning on on Tuesday in a statement signed by the Acting – General Manager Corporate Affairs, Alhaji Jibril Darda’u in Lokoja.

According to the statement: “We would like to use this medium to appeal to the general public, especially waterways’ users, to strictly adhere to NIWA safety guidelines, especially for boat operators, in Lagos and Benue States.

While commiserating with the people, Government and families of the victims of recent boat mishap in Lagos and Benue,the Managing Director, Dr. George Moghalu warned all boat operators in the
country to adhere strictly to inland waterways transportation safety
guidelines.

Moghalu further stated that his reform agenda of inland waterways transportation system under his administration in the country is working towards ensuring a minimal if not free boat mishap on our waterways.

The statement reads in part: “the authority is sad with the recent boat mishaps,which could have been avoided in Lagos and Benue States that claimed so many lives as a result of violating Inland Waterway Transport Safety and guidelines,”the statement concluded.

NIWA shutdown operations of boat owner for violating safety regulations

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has shutdown operations of the boat operator; Lalek Marine for failing to comply with regulations put in place against night movement and overloading of boats in Lagos.

The boat, which operated out of Ebute Ero jetty on Friday night by 8pm and capsized on its way to Ikorodu, shortly after departure, with 14 passengers rescued and six dead with one missing.

In a statement, the Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Eng Sarat Braimah said that the ill fated boat that capsized, failed to adhere to 6pm sailing regime guiding water transportation services in Lagos.

She added: “In a preliminary report on the sad and avoidable incident, the Lagos area office of NIWA stated that the boat operator apart from violating the extant time of operation regime which is at 6pm and not 8pm, the boat operator also overloaded the boat against the covid 19 protocol which allows only 60 per cent carrying capacity for all types of boats in order to encourage social distancing.

“We at NIWA responded immediately and joined the marine police, LASWA and other concerned agencies to rescue the 14 passengers and also recovered six others already drowned, with one missing”. She explained.
She explained that the Ebute Ero jetty, the departure point of the ill-fated boat will henceforth be monitored by NIWA police pending the conclusion of the investigation to the incident. She hinted that the owner of the boat is being tracked down by NIWA to come to explain how the unfortunate incident happened and if need be, the collaborators to the whole unfortunate episode.

“The MD of NIWA has directed that the jetty be monitored by NIWA police to avoid re-occurrence of the incident and to enable NIWA conduct full investigation to this very sad but avoidable violation” she added, noting that NIWA management had a month ago offered waiver and reduced sundry fees and other operational charges across board in the brown water economy to help stakeholders stick to post Covid 19 protocols and to check tendencies that might encourage violations of extant regulation regime.

“The Managing director of NIWA, Dr George Moghalu knew that some operators might be tempted to make quick money to make up for the lost opportunities and financial loss experienced during the lock down and therefore was futuristic and proactive to reduce the fees and charges, knowing the expected impact of the new normal on operators but we can see from what happened that some operators are so uncaring and selfish to end the lives of innocent people through blatant violation of the rules of engagement.”

NIWA is still investigating the situation, looking at various scenarios, and engaging other agencies and boat operators association to nip this type of avoidable incident in the bud, she added.

Access Roads stalling Baro Port from Take off – NIWA MD

The non completion of the major access roads to the multi-million Naira Baro Inland Port in Niger State is stalling its take off, according to the Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr George Moghalu.

While speaking with Journalist on Sunday in Lokoja, Moghalu said the authority is working round the clock by reaching out to appropriate authorities in a bid to get access roads to the facility fixed.

He noted that the port is critical to the operations of the Nigeria’s waterways, especially being a feeder to inland dry ports in Kaduna and others been proposed by the federal government.

Stakeholders have expressed worries over the inability of the federal government to put the Baro port to use more that a year after its commissioning by President Muhammadu Buhari.

The Etsu Nupe, Alhaji Yahaya Abubakar and the Niger State government have recently appealed to the federal government to accelerate work on the main access road from Agaie town in Agaie local government area through Katcha to Baro. Governor Abubakar Sani Bello and the Etsu believed that the port is a key catalyst for trade stimulation and economic development of the North in particular and Nigeria at large.

There are two major access roads to the ancient community – the 55 kilometers Baro/Katcha/Agaie and Baro/Muye linking Gegu on Abuja/Lokoja expressway both of which are in deplorable condition. The federal government had awarded the contract for the Baro/Katcha/Agaie axis. NIWA is also considering the option of approaching the host state government of Niger with the intent of persuading it to collaborate with the federal government on the matter. The Baro port was constructed by a Chinese firm, CGCC Project Limited, at the cost of N5.8 billion. The port boasts of a quay length of 150 metres, cargo stacking yard of 7,000 square metres, a transit shed of 3, 600 square metres and an estimated capacity of 5,000 TEU at a time.

FG committed to completion of Lokoja Inland Port – NIWA MD

The Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority, (NIWA) Dr. George Muoghalu has restated the commitment of the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari to the completion of the Lokoja inland Port.

The MD who gave this hint in Lokoja while answering questions from journalists on Wednesday, who were on visit to the Authority, noted that it is the desire of government to ensure that the Nigeria waterways is Navigable all year round.

He maintained that if the waterways are put to effective use, it will help to reduce pressure on the roads and save the country huge resources being invested in the maintenance of the roads every year.

While expressing concern over the slow pace of work on the Jamata River port in Lokoja, several years after the contract was signed, he said the federal executive council has ordered the review of the contract terms to fast track the completion of the project.

He said the Authority has concluded arrangements to procure additional dredgers to carry out maintenance dredging of the water channels for easy navigation.

Speaking on how to manage the economy after the COVID-19 pandemic, Muoghalu called on government at all levels to gear up for post COVID-19 engagement towards ensuring that the economy is revived to guarantee efficiency.

“The federal and the state Governments has shown capacity in the management of the COVID-19 pandemic. My worry is how to revamp the economy which has been greatly affected by the pandemic.

“The year 2020 appropriation has been adjusted to reflect current realities. My advice to government at all levels is to prepare for the post COVID-19 engagement. We must all join hands together to revive the economy for optimal performance.”