NIMASA to clamp down on uncertified Boat Skippers
By Ikenna Omeje
The Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) has promised tougher sanctions against untrained and uncertified boat skippers in the habit of ignoring safety procedures and endangering the lives of passengers. This is in connection with the recent fatal boat mishaps on the country’s inland waterways.
The Director-General, NIMASA, Dr. Bashir Jamoh, stated this in Lagos during a courtesy visit to the Agency by General Manager of the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel.
A statement signed by the Head, Corporate Communications, NIMASA, Philip Kyanet also said, Jamoh suggested the development of cohesive safety enforcement guidelines and regulations for implementation across the littoral states. He said the harmonisation of standards and procedures for safety in the territorial waters would go a long way in minimising unsafe practices by operators of non-conventional vessels, which are not subject to international standards, but rely mainly on national regulations.
“We have a number of boat skippers that are not trained, and not knowledgeable enough and they do not have certification. They only know how to maneuver the boat and risk people’s lives.
“The issue is important, that is why I would start to take it more seriously, because charity begins at home. If we have enforcement officers and they are laid back, they will continue to watch what is happening without doing anything. I am glad to see the synergy and collaboration that is developing with the Lagos State Waterways Authority because we all have as our common mandate the job of ensuring safety in our waters.” The Director General said.
Jamoh said the Federal Ministry of Transportation is in the process of building unified enforcement guidelines for safety in the country’s waters, stressing that the synergy between NIMASA and the Lagos State Government would help to fast track the process. He urged greater supervision of officers engaged in the enforcement of safety standards.
“Our responsibility is to ensure that we monitor and supervise the staff that are given the responsibility of enforcing the issue of safety at sea,” he stated, adding that safety procedures, such as availability of adequate life jackets, good condition of the boat, and time of use, must be verified by enforcement officers before a boat sets sail.
In his remarks, the General Manager LASWA elaborated on the importance of uniform enforcement procedure, he promised to intensify information sharing between his agency and NIMASA as part of efforts to improve collaboration for maritime safety.
“I am really excited that this is happening because overtime what we generally tend to see on the waterways is an overlap of so many functions.
“We have the database of small craft, which I believe that we would be ready to share with NIMASA,” Emmanuel said.