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Waterways in Lagos and regulatory compliance

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By Mercy Kelani

Without life jackets, boat passengers stand a risk of losing their lives.

The Lagos State Waterways (LASWA) is saddled with the responsibility to ensure coordination and management of reforms that are required for the long-term development of transportation by water across the state. This includes the granting of ferry licenses and concessions for activities on ferry terminal and routes to the private sector. The agency ensures that safety is its top priority. However, many users of waterways in Lagos State face the risk of losing their lives due to a boat mishap that is caused by regulatory mistakes.

LASWA has a patrol team that comprises of water guards, with support from the Nigeria Police Force Counter Terrorist Unit (CTU). The Lagos State Waterways (LASWA), on its website, that the patrol teams usually patron the entirety of the waterway network every day. It was also stated by the agency that one of the major duties of the team is to make sure that no one, at all, enters or boards any kind if motorized vessel without putting on a life jacket.

With no regulatory guidelines, operators engage in overloading.

Patrol teams are also responsible for ensuring the standardization of life jackets. LASWA also reiterated that it is the responsibility of the patrol teams to ensure adherence to rules and regulations at all times, including the safety of all passengers at terminals or jetties. However, this enforcement was absent at some of the jetties in Lagos. At Iyafin jetty, located in Badagry, compliance with the use of life jackets among waterways passengers was low. Children who take this route, without life jackets, are at risk of danger.

However, it was discovered that some children who boarded a boat for the jetty to Ipokia did not wear a life jacket. At Salu jetty, in Badagry LGA, residents revealed that operators of five boat work till late in the night — which solely depends on the availability of passengers. It was also revealed that there is no existence of established regulatory guidelines that states a specific number of passengers that each boat is permitted to carry. As a result, the operators get involved in overloading, with dependence on the number of available passengers.

Situations in jetties are beginning to take a new turn.

Also, it was said that some of the wooden boats are no longer good enough. In Apapa LGA, the life jackets given to passengers at Liverpool and Coconut bus stop jetties are no longer in good condition. The boats also need maintenance. Pastor Olabisi, a resident of Igbologun Island, Amuwo Odofin LGA, lamented the poor condition of life jackets, despite recent improvements by the state government in other safety-related aspects. He emphatically stated that the life jackets are bad and do not fulfil any purpose as they are only used as decoration.

While it is mandatory for passengers to always wear a life jacket while on water, most of them are in bad shapes. Nevertheless, there are improvements in other aspects. Previously, boat operators do not stop working on water until 11 p.m. — which is when accidents are usually recorded. Situations in jetties are beginning to take a new turn as boat operators now close operation after 7 p.m. Since this development, there have been no record of any recent boat accidents.

Community members are ensuring the monitoring of overload.

Asides government officials, community members have now engaged themselves in the monitoring process. Henceforth, any boat that transports passengers without life jackets on the water will be seized. Community members are also ensuring the monitoring of overload; while small fibre boats are to carry four to five passengers, wooden boats are to carry not more than fifteen passengers. Any boat operator that refuses to adhere to this rule and anyone who violates it will be asked to make all their passengers leave the boat.

Related Link

LASWA: Website

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