Reps move to end incessant Boat, Water Craft mishaps on Coastal Lines, Waterways
By EricJames Ochigbo
The House of Representatives has called on management of Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to device new strategic regulatory guidelines to ensure compliance while enhancing search and rescue measures.
The resolution sequel to the adoption of a motion sponsored by Hon. Rodney Ebikebina Ambaiowei, who solicited for the House intervention with a view to ensure adequate security of lives and property.
In his lead debate, Rep. Ambaiowei noted that Nigeria’s coastline spans about 853km (530miles) and over 3000km of navigable inland water channel with great potential for inland cargo and passenger transportation.
He observed that “over the years, there has been repeated incidence of insecurity, threat and act of illegalities which includes crude oil theft, pipeline vandalism, illegal oil bunkering, piracy and sea robbery and illegal fishing activities amongst others.
“The House is concerned recently that the mass and social media are awash almost on daily basis with sad news of numerous numbers of Nigeria’s citizens perishing as a result of various boat mishaps across the country on our coastlines and waterways.
“The House is aware that, the Inland Waterways cuts across 23 states out of 36 states while boat mishaps continue to rise astronomically.
“Recently in Bayelsa State on the 6th April 2023, there was a tragic boat mishap at Okoroma Community along Brass waterways in Brass Local Government Area.
“Sadly, not less than five dead bodies were recovered while several persons and still missing. Also another Boat mishap was recorded along Otuam and Anyama River in Southern Ijaw Local Government Area where a female youth corps member and five others lost their lives.
“The House is alsoAlso aware that on Saturday 24th June 2023, in Egbu Village in Patigi Local Government area of Kwara State, a boat with 250 people traveling for wedding event capsized and about 144 victims were rescued.
“In Kaduna, 10 students of Victory International secondary school got drowned in a river with just two of them rescued. In Kano State, in 2021, a boat with 47 people capsized with 20 people dead. In Niger State, a boat from Lokon carrying more than 160 people capsized at Warrah Ngaski. In Birrnin Kebbi, 97 bodies were recovered as a result of a boat mishap.
“In Calabar on the 24th June 2023, three out of 14 Medical Students who have converged at Medical school Calabar for 2023 Nigerian Medical Association Health week got drowned when their boat capsized on water ways.
“The boat was reportedly derailed due to high waves as soon as it left for Marina Resort jetty. The casualties would have been more if not for the prompt intervention of the Divers from the Nigerian Navy.
“The House is cognizant of the absence of regulatory guidelines for boat building maintenance and operations in Nigeria coastlines and waterways and issues that come into play regarding vessels operations that could result in accidents, death and injuries include, alcohol use excessive speed; failure to vent; improper lookouts; inadequate on board navigation lights; navigation rules violation; operators’ inexperience and inattention, illiteracy and non-challant attitude of boat operators are common courses of most of the boat mishaps in Nigeria,” he said.
While appreciating the efforts of patriotic Nigerians, he observed that there is need to enhance and courageously give whatever it takes to sustain the economic development that water transportation portends.
“The House is further cognizant that economic benefit of waterways transportation and its activities are responsible for a wide range of indirect value – added and employment effects through linkages of transport with other economic sectors.
“The House is worried that, if the above identified challenges are not addressed forthwith as patriotic and worthy Nigerians, the plethora of deaths and insecurity being recorded daily in Nigeria’s coastlines and waterways could skyrocket thereby having serious negative impact on our socio- economic development which will definitely be against the vision of the new administration,” Ambaiowei urged.
After observing ‘a minute silence in honour of those who lost their lives recently in various boat/water craft mishaps on our waterways, the House urged the National Orientation Agency and National Meteorological Agency to commence copious awareness campaign on safety measures necessary to prevent boat and water craft hazards;
To this end, the House mandated the Committee on NIMASA (when constituted) to undertake a visit to the Netherlands to understudy how the country runs their Boats and water crafts in their coastlines and waterways transportation system with minimal casualties.