By Chiazo Ogbolu
By Chiazo Ogbolu
The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) on Monday said that the Ministry of Justice had gazetted a new waterway regulation stipulating seven years imprisonment for defaulters of waterways regulations.
The Lagos Area Manager, NIWA, Mrs Sarat Braimah, made this known at the authority’s Community-to-Community Waterways Transportation Awareness Campaign on safety Procedures, in Lagos.
The communities visited are Sagbo Koji in Amuwo Odofin, Irede in Oriade and Ibeshe.
According to Braimah, the punishment will be metted out to jetty operators with overloaded boats, drivers of such boats as well as passengers who fail to use life jackets, among others.
She said that any non-compliance with waterway regulations would attract the punishment.
“The new legislation is part of government’s effort to curb incessant loss of lives ocassioned by non-compliance with waterway regulations,” she said.
She listed some of the misnomers to include night sailing (beyond 7.00 p.m.), driving of unregistered boats, driving without paddles, driving without licence, and driving rickety and leaking boats.
According to her, the others include driving without standard life jacket, driving an un-named boat, driving under influence of alcohol/drugs, overloading, assault and obstruction of task force on duty.
During the tour of Sagbo Koji, Braimah directed seizure of substandard life jackets found in a retail store.
She described substandard life jackets to be as deadly as fake drugs.
While donating authentic life jackets in the communities, the NIWA boss seized the opportunity to differentiate between fake or substandard life jackets and standard ones.
“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.
“Most boat accidents are results of human element, which is non-compliance with regulations.
“We have repeated it severally that there should be no night sailing (from 7pm). It is better to stay alive and travel the next day than to endanger your life at night.
“I’m pleading with the three baales here to help us achieve this,” she said.
She also urged boat drivers not to drive without paddles as they would be unable to ferry such boats to the nearest shore in the event of sudden engine failure.
A youth Leader at Sagbo Koji, Mr Bobby Sanni, advised the authority to include youths in their task force because.
He said that policemen and NIWA operatives closed from jetties at 6.00 p.m. but youths could stay longer.
At the Irede in Oriade, a cleric, Mr Kareem Isah, told NIWA that passengers were the ones violating the rules as they rejected life jackets sometimes.
“Most of the life jackets given to passengers are very dirty and they cannot put them on,” he, however, said.
The Ovori of Ibeshe, Oba Alani Gausu and some community leaders – Baale Anthony Avime, Sagbo Koji; Baale Houeto Bernard, Whla Koji and Baale Sohome Bishop Koji commended NIWA for the sensitisation visit.