NIWA, LASWA Collaborate, Release Water Transport Guidelines, Standards For Operators

…As ATBOWATON Boss Calls For Wider Consultation
As part of efforts to make Lagos water transport safer for passengers, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) have released Operational Standards for Commercial Boat Operation on Lagos Inland Ways.
This is just as the two regulatory bodies stated that commercial boat operators must have take comprehensive insurance with a reputable recognise insurance companies and that copies of such policies are submitted to regulatory bodies annually.
The Guidelines and Standards for Water Transportation in Lagos State was released to the public at joint stakeholders conference at Protea Hotel, Ikoyi, Lagos.
Speaking at the presentation conference, the Area Manager, NIWA, Lagos, Muazu Sambo, stated that the essence of the guidelines and standards was to make the water transport safer and to further encourage more people to patronise water transportation.
He added that to do this, the first thing regulators should is to come up with standards to make people feel safe travelling by water.
The Area Manager stated that the two bodies had agreed on when the guidelines and standards would be operational.
Sambo acknowledged that before now NIWA and LASWA have not been working together but that the two authorities have decided to release the guidelines and standards in the interest of the passengers who want safer water transportation.
He also posited that what will benefit the majority of the people is what all the stakeholders.
Sambo disclosed that the two agencies have agreed that 60 days should be given to the operators to comply with the standards and that the compliance date starts from May 1, 2016.
On her part, the Managing Director of LASWA, Engr Abisola Kamson stated the collaboration between LASWA and NIWA would not only improve water transportation but would also make it safer and comfortable.
She added that for the water transportation in the state to be safer and better regulated, there must be a set of rules and regulation s guiding the operators of water transport.
Some of the guidelines and standards which operators are expected to comply with includes that :all commercial boats must be fitted with two engine and a functional speedometer, commercial boats must have the following minimum internal dimension with length 7.3m,width 2.2m,distance between seats 0.6m and minimum capacity of 30 passengers, that all commercial boats must have double Hull and bottom design, all commercial boats must be fitted with appropriate navigational aids including GPS and Echo Sounder systems.
Other notable requirements which the commercial boats operators must comply with are: provision for minimum four emergency exits, with two on the sides and that sides exits should be made of collapsible non –glass materials, provision of toilet and appropriate waste treatment facilities on 70 passengers or bigger boats, manifest on board must be secured in a water tight carrier, all commercial boats must comply with a speed limit of six knots around jetties and a minimum of 15 knots as service speed and that all commercial boats operators must take out a comprehensive insurance cover from reputably recognised insurance companies and ensure that copies of such policies are submitted to regulatory bodies annually and also kept on board in a visible location.
Though, some stakeholders had wondered why the manifest should be on board the boat, but the Area Manager, explained that there would be duplicates of the documents.
Speaking at the event, the National President Association of Tourists, Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON),Mr Tarzan Balogun, stated that it would cost operators millions of naira to build the standard boats the two regulatory authorities are talking about.
On the possibility of liaising with the two authorities so as to secure zero tariffs from the Federal Government on imported boat engines that would be used for commercial operations, he said that would be better good for the operators to encourage them in the business and to reduce cost of operation .
He however added that Nigeria can build boats that could be compared to those built in other countries such as Russia, United States and Japan among others.
On whether the regulatory bodies consulted widely with stakeholders before rolling out the guidelines and standards, he said that from what transpired at the event and the several questions that were asked, it showed that both NIWA and LASWA have to do more to achieve not only the desired results but to also make water transport safer.