The Waterfront Boat Owners and Transporters Association (WABOTAN) has acknowledged the significant reduction in boat accidents on Lagos Waterways due to constant sensitization and training of boat drivers by the association.
President of WABOTAN, Comrade Babatope Fajemirokun also attributed the drop in waterways accident to the partnership between WABOTAN and the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).
Speaking with newsmen in Lagos on Tuesday, Comrade Fajemirokun also hinted that the association is approaching the Lagos State Government to seek control and management of the newly commissioned jetties by Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu across the waterways recently.
Recall that the Lagos State Governor, Babajide Sanwo-Olu recently commissioned seven newly constructed jetties which includes; Liverpool Jetty, Ijegun-Egba Jetty, Ilashe Jetty in Amuwo-Odofin, Isalu-Ajido Jetty, Marina Badagry Jetty, Offin Jetty in Igbogbo Bayeku and Ito Omu in Epe.
He assured that the association has the capacity and manpower to manage the jetties on behalf of the government.
“We identify with the Lagos State Government in building these jetties, where there are good jetties, it promotes waterways safety. It also improved the look and feel of the encouragement where they are built. Above all these, you see several features in place like toilet facilities, contributing to the fight against open defecation.
“WABOTAN is a major stakeholder and we feel we have a major role to play in managing these jetties.
“What we seek is Concessioning and any other partnership that they deemed fit to enter with us, in order to ensure that the jetties are put into profitable use and they are sustainable in terms of maintenance in cost of running the jetties.
“WABOTAN is highly experienced and capable to run these jetties.
Don’t forget that we also have a registered Corporative Society regulated by the Lagos State Government, we have all it takes to run the Jetty as concessionaires.
“In fact, we have what it takes to run all the jetties, we have the experience, the manpower, including other federal jetties across Nigeria because we are national” he said
Also speaking, the Public Relations Officer of WABOTAN, Chief Raymond Gold noted that training is the core of what WABOTAN does to build capacity, and also improve safety on the waterways.
In terms of waterways safety, he said that WABOTAN usually met out sanctions on any boat driver responsible for mishaps.
He said that this is in addition to whatever consequences the driver faces with regulatory agencies.
“This is major reason why we set up our training programs, these are what is responsible for the zero percent of mishaps on the waterways and the level of discipline we inculcated in our members” he said
The WABOTAN spokesman also noted that another training program organized by the association is slated for November 2023.
“Our training is a very comprehensive one, the last one we had in November last year, all the major stakeholders were there, they all endorsed the training and provided resources for the training. The fire fighting service was there, NPA, NIWA LASWA, NIMASA as well as the Lagos State Safety and Rescue Team were all there. The major stakeholders signed the certificate of participation which was issued to all trainees at the end of the training.
“This year, we are taking steps further than what we did last year, the same stakeholders would be there, and we plan to produce souvenir brochures for the event.
After the training for our members, we are going to have the leadership training for next year, for people who are leaders, the major stakeholders, ministries and departments would be part of this program.
“Last year, we had about 120 trainees, this year, we want to raise the bar, we are looking at a range of 150 to 200 operators to be trained. For some of the operators, it would be a fresh training, while for some, it would be an advancement training.
We are not just looking at boat drivers like I said, we are looking also at training our leaders for them to have the expertise in leadership skills” he said
Lagos State Chairman of WABOTAN, Comrade Jacob Ebiboh further reiterated the partnership between the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) and WABOTAN, describing it as responsible for the drop in the rate of boat mishaps
“NIWA is in partnership with the association through the setting up of a Joint Task Force that is working day and night.
We have representation at all the jetties, in the case of eventualities, they raise the alarm and we move there to remove whatever could cause accident.
“We have also stopped people that always board boats without life jackets. Also, before now, you see boats moving from Lagos to Badagry without indication lights, but with our constant training, we have changed many things.
“There are some captains of boats that always drink and drunken before embarking on a journey, but now we have people stationed at the various jetties to make sure they checkout the captains that want to pick people in the boats.
Public Relations Officer of the Lagos Chapter, Comrade Ramon Babatunde said that WABOTAN is disturbed by the constant report of boat accidents, and that the association subsequently mapped out a plan that, at every jetty, all the necessary rules and regulations that has to be taken upon before a passenger or a boat driver embark on a journey is adhere to.
He said “A passenger must ensure that they make use of the safety jacket before stepping into the boat.
Secondly, we ensure that no boat is allowed to take more than the number of passengers they are allowed to take.
“Most of the causes of the boat mishaps is that sometimes, the driver wants to collect money while driving, so, make sure that before move from the jetty, there money must have been collected.
“We also tried to locate where we have wrecks, especially on the Ikorodu axis, wrecks is the major cause of these mishaps.
“We identified these wrecks and three weeks ago, we put up a team which supervised the wreck removal around Badagry axis. This we do in partnership with NIWA, NIMASA.
“We are also partnering with LASWA, in days to come, this would also materialize.
These are the reasons why you don’t hear of any mishaps on the waterways again” he said.