The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA in collaboration with the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA have issued operational standards for commercial boat operations on Lagos waterways.
Speaking during the unveiling of the operational standards for boat operations in Lagos, the area manager of NIWA Lagos, Muazu Sambo said that there are compelling reasons for the collaboration which is to safeguard water transportation in Lagos.
Mr. Sambo said Lagos has recorded many boat mishaps which have become a source of concern to many people in the state.
He said both agencies are looking for ways of reducing boat mishaps to the barest minimum in Lagos.
The NIWA area manager, Lagos traced some of causes of the mishaps to lack standardisation of vessels used by water transporters.
“We cannot just deploy any vessel on the waterways as the safety of the waterways is key, we have not been able to provide vessels that will make people feel safe on the waterways. That is why we are here to set standards and to make people feel safe travelling on the waterways”, said Sambo.
He stated that NIWA and LASWA is going to be working together to sanitise water transportation for the betterment of Lagosians and Nigerians.
The area manager of NIWA, Lagos said NIWA has acquired equipment which was kept at Tarzan Jetty to clear water hyacinths and debris from the Lagos waterways .
Sambo gave the compliance date as 60 days, starting from May 1, 2016.
He said NIWA and LASWA will work to ensure that there is no issue of multiple taxation on the boat operators.
Speaking also, the managing director of the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Engr. Abisola Kamson said the collaboration became necessary to define areas that are admissible for which type of boat to operate.
She said the partnership with NIWA will make water transportation safer and more efficient in Lagos state.
Kamson stated that for water transportation to be safer, there must be operational standards and guidelines for commercial boat operations in Lagos.
The operational standards include, that all commercial boats must be fitted with two engines and a functional speedometer, that commercial boats must have the following minimum internal dimension of length of 7.3m, width of 2.2m. Distance between seats 0.6m, minimum capacity of 30 passengers.
That all commercial boats must have double Hull and bottom design, that all commercial boats must be fitted with appropriate navigational aids, GPS and Echo sounder system, appropriate and adequate cabin lighting systems, fitted with adequate safety accessories, including but not limited to fire extinguishers, paddle, life buoys, shore to sea communications gadgets, provision of pyrotechnics and hand flare, functional key starter, horn, alarm system.
Provision of minimum four numbers of emergency exits, with two on the side, side exits should be made of collapsible non glass materials, provision of toilet and appropriate waste treatment facilities on 70 passenger or bigger boats, that commercial boat colours must conform to the specified standard among others.
Reacting to the new operational standards for commercial boat operations in Lagos, the President of the Association of Tourists Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria, ATBOWATON, and managing director of Tarzan Jetty, Tarzan Shekoni Balogun observed that some of the released operational standards are not workable in the boat operations business in the state.
He stated that the boat operators were not fully consulted in setting the operational standards.
He said the fitting of some of the operational standard equipment required in some of the boats will cost between N20 to N30million for a two boat engine as the GPS and Echo Sounders and few others will cost over N300, 000 alone.
Tarzan urged the federal and state government to make the purchases of the boats with all the navigational aids and safety accessories on board and give to the association to manage as the payment will be made to the government as agreed by both parties.
He added that boat grants, soft loans package, federal and state government assisted boats, life jackets grants and subsidies are all welcome .
In his words, he said, “we hereby pledge our co-operation to NIWA and Lagos State government to move water transportation to greater height, we request that our association should be carried along during future planing and decision taken on the Lagos inland waterways.”