NIWA mulls ban on night ferry services to check maritime accidents, deaths

The Managing Director of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Dr. George Moghalu, has said his organisation is considering banning night operations by boat operators, insisting that the dark activities were responsible for the many maritime accidents and casualties recorded in the country.

Moghalu, who was inaugurating the newly refurbished harbour slipway at the NIWA yard in Warri, Delta State, disclosed that many of the accidents recorded in the sector occurred at night, “because many of the boats and vessels operating during the night do not have navigational equipment and systems to avert collisions.”

Although the NIWA chief said he could place hands on the exact casualty figure, he, however, noted that the statistics were on the high side.

Moghalu also expressed worry over the number of wrecked vessels and water hyacinth on the waters, saying they equally pose serious danger to maritime activities.

He said it was not the duty of NIWA to remove wrecks from the waterways, as there is an established process for that.

The NIWA boss disclosed that his agency had intervened in severe situations, urging owners of wrecked vessels to remove them from the waterways.

On the issue of shallow channels raised by stakeholders, Moghalu said NIWA would procure more dredgers to clear silts for smoother navigation. He disclosed that the agency had also involved commercial dredgers for a better job.

Moghalu, who spoke at length on safety, said rickety and unregistered boats must be banned from the waterways, directing officials to impound illegal boats and vessels.

He harped on training of port operators, warning that no boat operator should be allowed to operate a vessel without undergoing requisite registration.

The NIWA chief executive said lifejackets would now be readily available at harbours, as his agency had signed a memorandum of understanding with a company on the supply of the facilities.

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