September 26, 2022

Maritime Today Online

latest news and events in maritime and shipping

90% of boat accidents occur at night- NIWA

L-R: General Manager, Marine, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Mr. Joseph Ororo; Managing Director, George Moghalu and a staff of NIWA, during the Authority's third quarter stakeholders meeting and commissioning of patrol boats in Lagos on Thursday.

...says electronic registration for watercraft to begin January 2022

The Managing Director, National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) George Moghalu, says 90 percent of accidents on waterways occur during the night because many of the boats operating during the period do not have navigational aids.

Moghalu, stated this in Lagos on Thursday during the Authority’s third quarter stakeholders meeting where he commissioned three patrol boats acquired to enforce safety regulations on the Lagos inland waterways.

The NIWA MD also inaugurated a taskforce team that would be deployed alongside the patrol boats to ensure that safety protocols are adhered to.

Moghalu lamented that most of the operators are averse at obeying protocols noting that despite the ban on night movement, most operators have continued to flout the directive and safety regulations put in place against overloading.

He said safety of the nation’s inland waters and lives of passengers is one area that gives him much concern, stating that the setting up of the task force will help NIWA enforce the required protocols to make the waterways safe.

“NIWA is coordinating this particular activity because of the emphasis we place on security and emergency response.  We have procured about 20 patrol boats and we have given out to our area offices. We have given three to Lagos today because we want to lay great emphasis on the issue of security. We have also procured two ambulances already and the procurement process for additional seven is ongoing. We are going to bring one to Lagos out of the ones that are already delivered,”

“We are very worried because the people that died in any of these accidents are our relations, friends, brothers and sisters and most importantly they are human beings. So, I get very worried.

“Our people are averse to obeying protocols. We have placed an embargo on vessels moving between 6:30 and 7:00pm every day and not before 6:am in the morning because we have noticed that 90 percent of these accidents that occur either happen in the night or very early hours of the morning and are overloaded. The reason is because the operators don’t have night navigational aids and if they don’t have it, it is therefore suicidal for you to operate when you know you don’t have this tool but unfortunately, they still insist on doing that.

“So, this taskforce will enforce all the protocols not only on the NIWA controlled jetties but on all jetties so long as they operate on Nigeria waterways. They have our mandate to stop, seize where necessary any vessel that is infringing on any of these protocols and I assure members of the taskforce that you have our support.

“I commend our partners in this project, Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria ( MWUN), Lagos State Waterways Authorities and the National Drug Law Enforcement Agency, I appreciate them for their support,” he said.

Also speaking, General Manager, Marine, NIWA, Mr. Joseph Ororo, disclosed that the authority would commence electronic registration and certification for watercraft by January 1st 2022.

He said the manual registration does not conform with the Federal Government ease of doing business policy hence the need to key into online registration of watercraft.

“Hitherto boat registration is being done manually. You have to come to the office and interact with our staff before you get boat registered but that is not compliant with the ease of doing business that the Federal government is promoting. So, we are taking it up as a point of duty that going forward beginning from January 1st 2022, boat registration will be done online through a platform that NIWA is putting in place.

“So, from the comfort of your homes, you just key into the platform and give us details about your boat whether it is a new registration or renewal that you want to do. You just go to the necessary section and fill in the data about the specification of the boat. The only contact you will have with our staff is that you will go for a joint inspection and survey. Having done that, you will get an alert for registration of your boat or renewal of the same.

He said that with the online process, the system would automatically generate an identification number for the boat and the number would go with the boat until it is decommissioned.

“One of the advantages is for security purposes, it will be easy for security men to identify ownership of the boat because once that number is generated, a name plate will be affixed conspicuously to the boat so that from afar, security men could zoom into your boat and get the details.

“If one allows the boat to be used for illegal purposes or stolen, it will be fished out easily. Another advantage is that it will reduce discrepancies due to minimal contact with staff,” he said.

On issuance of boat driver’s license, Ororo  said over 200 boat drivers have been trained in Warri and about 86 in Port Harcourt noting that the training would soon commence in Lagos.

He added that NIWA would soon introduce the Inland Waterways Transportation Code, which will spell out rules and regulations for boat operators to ensure safety on the waterways.