Unfortunate, Avoidable Boat Mishap and Need for Viable Water Transportation As Alternative Mode

By Maritime Security News

Water transportation system in Nigeria, no doubt is said to be the cheapest mode of transportation.
Though, it is not fastest means or mode of transporting goods and passengers from one destination to another but still counts as an alternative to road transportation.
Also it supposed to be easiest and the safest means moving good and passengers from one point to another.

Water transportation probably should be seen as another area and lucrative  area of investment for Nigerians and even foreign investors. Though it is yet to taped into but there is need for this area of business to be harnessed. It has huge potentials and opportunities available for those coming to Invest in water transportation. It pays and guarantees your return on investment. 
But unfortunately, in this part of the world, we are yet to appreciate this nature given opportunity and its important. Nigeria is yet to know the uses of water transportation, not to talk of harnessing its abundant resources and enormous benefits.
The lack of regulation and proper usage of water ways as well as monitoring to ensure standard and operational efficiency has resulted into steady boat mishaps in the recent time. 
But among the many boat mishaps, that of Wednesday July 29,2020 along Liverpool Tin  Can to Badagry was a an unfortunate, a traumatic and Avoidable tragedy.
Giving an eye witness account of what happened, a regular user of waterway who was on that route that moment, pastor Solomon Peters told News Emperor that that particular boat left before their own. And that God saved him and been protecting on that route. 
He it was on process of trying to pick more passengers at a particular jetty that the boat developed fault.
“They said that they had three passengers at Kirikiri, that when we reach there they will complete the passengers. But unfortunately, when our boat get there, we  could not see them. It was that the affected boat had picked them. So  we thought that as we pickup that three from Kirikiri, that they will complete it 18 passengers. But on getting to Kirikiri, we could not see the passengers. So the guy was like getting angry that why did they make to loose passengers he would have  carried at Tin Can. So he started calling jetty back to tell that he did not see them”, he said.
“It was on process to reverse back that his boat engine off.You know, by left side of that Kirikiri jetty, by the left side if you are coming from Tin  Can and there, they normally park big vessels by the side. So, this particular one now, was a barge that was carrying trucks that had containers on them. Unfortunately, as the engine stopped, it was wave and current that were tossing the boat around and eventually dragged it to the slowly moving barge and that barge collided with the boat inside the high sea.”
The source later added that based on the information he got when they get to the venue of the incident that the boat was already filled to its capacity but due to greed list for money, and maybe because that was the last trip for the day or Maybe because it was getting dark, so he had to divert and carry those three passengers that we supposed to carry.”
Mr. Peters said that mishap was as a result of human mistake and should had been avoided.   That it was mere recklessness and greediness on the part of the operator. He also noted that of the 18 passengers inside the boat only three survived, meaning that the other 15 passengers couldn’t make it as the rescuers could not see them at the time of the in incident.
“He rushed and.  carried them. Maybe those passengers may have equally thought that our boat may not come again. That was what happened,” the eye witness narrated.
“So, from that point, according to those around when we get there, they said the engine of the boat stopped, just as it normally happen sometimes.” He continued: “you know when the engine stops, the boat cannot move again. That was what happened. So, he was there making calls, trying to tell them that he had problem. So on the process of making this call, his boat was being tossed by the wind and the current. With waves and current moving it gradually, and maybe operator of the barge did not know, and the passengers, maybe, I don’t know, they not shout to alert the captain of barge. In fact, that was how the barge collided with the small boat pushing it down the deep sea”.
He therefore called on the government to critically look into water transportation business as another means of generating revenue for the government,  if properly developed through creation of an enabling environment that would attract the right investors.
There every tendency that regulatory bodies should make incentives available to attract businessmen to invest in this area of investment. 
On the other hand, there is need for those in the positions of authority to critically do something by campaigning vigorously on the to make the waterways viable and alternative to the other modes of transportation in the country.
The boat mishaps has been daily affairs in Nigeria. there was another that happened on its way from SMS to  Ikorodu, Lagos and many others which now are quick reminders of the danger associated with water transportation in Nigeria mostly when it is not properly regulated and monitored.
The issue of training and retraining of boat operators and the drivers in particularly, is another important area that should be looked into by regulatory authorities.  Through this process, the drivers of the boats will be knowledgeable and acquainted with the operational standards mostly in the interest of the public because they are dealing with human lives. These measures will help to avoid such regular, unwanted and avoidable mishaps like this particular one.
This latest mishap which claimed many lives 15 lives, according to those that witnessed it, wouldn’t have happened if not because of nonchalant attitude of the boat from the boat driver.
If these carelessness of operators and non-regulatory measures from authorities  continues, it bring fears in minds of many users of such water transportation as means movement, thereby hampering the-yet-to-be developed water transportation system in Nigeria as alternative to road.
The need for investors to acquire modern and standard ferries instead of smaller and open roof boats will be appreciated while tackling the issue of recklessness un professionalism within the system.
Yours sincerely is a regular user of the boats, mostly the ones plying from Liverpool in Apapa to Agbara or Badagry end of Lagos. I have at several occasions witnessed these careless drivers who even competing among themselves while carrying passengers. And by so doing they endanger the lives of their passengers.My ugly experience some months ago is a traumatic nightmare experience I will never forget so easily.
On that day, the two operators of two boats (the one I was and the other) were overspending and trying to know who will outsmart each other without thinking about the danger associated with such competitive and reckless speeding.
On that very day, what surprised me most, despite the fact that some passengers were half dead while others carried their hearts on their hands throughout voyage, some passengers were stupidly hailing our own driver.
To some passengers, they boarded the boats or follow the waterways just to avoid spending the whole day on the normal and regular traffic along Mile 2/Badagry expressway even other roads within Lagos State.
We therefore, call on government through the regulatory agencies like the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency ( NIMASA) NIWA, LASAWA Federal and States Ministries of Transportation to do their work and begin an aggressive campaign against recklessness quarks on the side of boat drivers and operators, while as well looking into o er flogged issue of over speeding, drinking while driving, non-usage of safety kits etc.
Equally, necessary too is the issue of constant certification of the operators which will help push  them to acquire the requisite knowledge to avoid quarks  occupying the water space.

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