NIWA sanctions boat operator over violations, as six drown

  • A capsized boat

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) is set to sanction Lalek Marine boat services for failing to adhere to safety regulations during its ill-fated trip, just as the jetty is now under supervision by the agency’s police services.

A 20-seater boat from the company capsized at about 8pm on Friday on its way from the Ebute Ero Jetty to Ikorodu, with six of the passengers confirmed dead so far and 14 rescued alive, while one is said to be still missing.

According to the NIWA Lagos Area Manager, Sarat Lara Braimah, the boat failed to adhere to the 6pm sailing regime for water transportation in Lagos, and also had over 60 per cent passenger load, which was against the Covid-19 carrying capacity for all types of boats for social distancing protocol.

In a preliminary report, Braimah disclosed that NIWA responded immediately and joined the marine police, LASWA and other concerned agencies to rescue the 14 passengers and recover six others already drowned, with one missing.    

According to her, the Ebute Ero Jetty from where the boat departed will henceforth be monitored by NIWA police, as directed by the NIWA Managing Director, Dr. George Moghalu, pending the conclusion of investigations and to avoid a reoccurrence, just as the boat owner was being tracked for explanations.

The agency regretted the unfortunate loss of lives from such violations in spite of its waivers and reduction of fees and various other operational charges to help operators maintain the restrictions occasioned by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The managing director knew that some operators might be tempted to make quick money to make up for the lost opportunities and financial losses during the lockdown and therefore was futuristic and proactive to reduce the fees and charges,” Braimah noted.

It was in view of “the expected impact of the new normal on operators, but we can see from what happened that some operators are so uncaring and selfish to end the lives of innocent people through blatant violation of the rules of engagement.

“NIWA is still investigating the situation, looking at various scenarios and engaging other agencies and boat operators’ association to nip this type of avoidable incident in the bud.”

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