The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has confirmed it was able to pull out the wrecked wooden boat that caused the boat accident that claimed one life and left 19 other passengers injured in Lagos on Tuesday.
The Lagos Area Manager of NIWA, Engr. Mu’azu Sambo, told Marine Network in an interview on Thursday that the wrecked boat was immediately removed while the NIWA personnel were on rescue mission at the site of the unfortunate occurrence.
He said that the wrecked boat that caused the accident was immediately taken to the NIWA Jetty at Oyingbo, Lagos, as soon as it was pulled out of the water in Oworonshoki area of the waterways.
“We immediately moved to the site of the accident on rescue mission, and that operation enabled us to pull out the wrecked wooden boat that caused the accident.
“The wrecked boat is actually the type used by sand dredgers, and we have moved it to the NIWA Jetty at Oyingbo for further investigation,” Sambo said.
Speaking on efforts to phase out the old passenger boats used for water transportation, Sambo disclosed that NIWA was already holding talks with operators on how to involve a private investor to enable them access new-designed boats on hire purchase.
“We have presented the design; what we considered a world class and standard design that would cater for efficiency in terms of speed, in terms of safety and in terms of maintenance cost, so that it would be affordable for passengers.
“This design, we have presented to the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON), for their input, and once that is finalized and we are in agreement, we will then hand it over to the private partner, with whom we are on a Public Private Partnership (PPP).
“This private partner has source for funding and they are passionate about water transport. They are investors and they will secure a loan with which boats will be acquired.
“We will then reach out to ATBOWATON for its members to access the boats under a guarantee by the association,” the Lagos Area Manager said.
Sambo explained that the association would have to guarantee its members who would access the boats for their operations and be able to pay for them over a period of time as agreed.
Restating the importance of safety always in water transportation, Sambo, however, said that the phasing out of the old boats would begin when the operators have accessed the new ones, in order not to throw them out of business.
“Helping them to acquire new boats, we would also have succeeded in empowering the boat operators without making them jobless, because they also create wealth. And the aim of every government is to cater for the welfare of the citizens,” he said.
He added that January 2018 is the target time for the boat operators to begin to get the new boats, which would be locally manufactured within a structure to be determined by the PPP model.