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.