By Steve Agbota
The Federal Government has given the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) a new law to mete out 7-year imprisonment to recalcitrant jetty owners, boat operators and passengers who flout water transport regulations, as part of efforts to tackle incessant of boat mishaps and loss of lives.
Speaking at the sensitisation programme at some riverine communities yesterday, the Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Sarat Braimah, said the new law is part of government’s effort to tackle the incessant loss of lives, which usually caused by non-compliance to waterway safety regulations. She added that the Ministry of Justice has gazetted a new waterway regulation which stipulates 7 years imprisonment for community leaders who operate jetties as well as private operators where boats are overloaded.
According to her, the same penalty goes for operators and passengers who fail to use life-jackets and other non-compliance to waterway regulations.
During the programme, she ordered the seizure of substandard life-jackets found at retail stores around the communities even as she described substandard life-jackets to be as deadly as fake drugs.
While donating authentic life-jackets to the communities, the NIWA boss also seized the opportunity to differentiate between fake or substandard life-jackets and standard ones, adding that most boat accidents occur at early hours or late at night, even as she reiterated that NIWA has banned night sailing beyond 7pm.
Speaking at Sagbo Koji, one of the riverine communities visited, she said: “We are here to rub minds with your community in order to curb boat accidents and consequent loss of lives. You can tell us where the government has lapses so we can improve, while we work together to remove the human element problems.