Lagos State Government has concluded plans to embark on an aggressive campaign and enforcement of guidelines for commercial boat operators, in a bid to forestall the tide of boat mishap in the state.
In a statement signed by the Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), Mrs Abisola Kamson, the new drive is in line with the commitment of State Governor, Mr Akinwunmi Ambode to ensure that water transportation by all standard, remains the most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation.
Kamson who spoke on the backdrop of a boat mishap which occurred at the weekend along Oke Ira Nla, Ajah-Bayeku, Ikorodu axis of the state, said LASWA was notified of the incident involving a Bayeku Ferry Association commercial boat carrying 20 passenger and two crew members from Oke Ira Nla, Ajah to Bayeku in Ikorodu.
She said upon receiving the notification, the Authority’s Water Guards were immediately deployed to the scene of the incident to assist in rescue efforts.
Kamson said she later led a delegation of state officials including the Permanent Secretary, Local Government and Community Affairs, Senior Special Assistant to the Governor on Security, and the Baale of Baiyeku, Chief Saheed Aleje Ajibode to visit the site of the incident.
She confirmed that all passengers onboard were wearing life jackets, revealing that 17 of them were rescued alive while five who were earlier rushed to the nearest General Hospital, died afterwards.
The LASWA boss said preliminary investigation by the Authority revealed that aside the mechanical fault that developed when the steering cable connected to the engine propeller cut, the captain of the boat was possibly also over-speeding, adding that he is presently being questioned by the Marine Police.
“The Lagos State Government in its drive to promote a multi-modal transport system, especially the movement of passengers, goods and services on its waterways, will under no circumstances compromise safety standards and the protection of lives and property. As such we restate our commitment to the promotion of all safety measures and ensure that all operators comply with all safety standards in line with global best practices”, she said.
“You will recall that on Wednesday September 23, at Sabokoji Jetty in Amuwo Odofin local government, the Lagos State Waterways Authority commenced the distribution of 2400 life jackets to students of riverine areas.
“Also, there were live demonstration of how to wear the life jackets, how to administer CPR and provision of water safety tips and vital life saving information”, she said.
She said the Authority in furtherance of its core functions and policy objectives will in the coming days convene a stakeholders meeting were all commercial and private boat owners will converge and dialogue on the activities of boat operation in the state.