The General Manager, Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, has assured Lagosians that government will continue to make the safety of citizens on waterways a priority and prevent boat mishaps in the future.
Emmanuel spoke earlier today on “Your View” – a TV Continental Programme – about a recent boat accident, just as he commiserated with those who lost loved ones or families on the waterways.
“It’s really a sad incident for us, and every time this happens, it has a negative image on water transportation as a whole”, he noted.
The General Manager explained that periodic evaluations of operations are conducted for improved water transportation experience and to prevent a reoccurrence of unforeseen incidents.
He recalled unfortunate occurrences involving different boats such as an instance involving a faulty boat that capsized due to panic of the occupants. 15 of the passengers were rescued while two of them lost their lives.
Emmanuel added that “In the second incident, the operator broke all the rules of the waterways like night travel, overloading of the boat and not taking-off from a recognised jetty, coupled with the decision of the passengers to take the risk”.
Maintaining that violators of laid down rules and regulations would continue to face the law, the General Manager recalled an incident that the captain of a boat was sentenced to life imprisonment for flouting the law guiding water transportation operations in Lagos.
He stated that LASWA has succeeded in reducing the number of accidents along the waterways since its inception, acknowledged that there is still a lot of room for improvement and emphasised that life jackets are critical to safety on waterways.
“One of the critical things about the waterways is that you have this thing called a life jacket. It’s your singular most important live-wire on the waterways,” he stated.
Speaking further, Emmanuel noted that the passengers found dead in a recent boat mishap had no life jackets on, warning that passengers must never remove their life jackets in the course of any journey. He promised that LASWA would continue to create awareness about the essence of putting on life jackets to keep commuters afloat no matter the tide of the water.
Responding to a question on the adequacy of water transportation in Lagos, the General Manager said, “Out of the 20 Local Government Areas in the State, 15 are accessible by water and already have designated movement and safety structures”.
“We’ve been trying to promote it, get more people to use it. However, we have those who are dedicated and those who have consistently been using the waterways. And now, what we are trying to do is improve it for them and encourage others to come in,” he revealed.
Emmanuel outlined steps already put in place for passenger safety including, filling of manifest by passengers; provision of life jackets; monitoring by water guards; swift emergency response time; deployment of local divers; collaboration with fishermen on waterways, availability of rescue emergency numbers; and the setting up of Monitoring and Data Control Centre.
“The next phase is having a tracker on each of the boats on waterways”, he said.