‘NIWA Lacks Fund, Manpower To Regulate Inland Waterways’

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Against the backdrop of incessant boat mishaps on the nation’s waterway, a former general manager of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Otunba Tayo Fadile, on Monday, said the agency needed more fund and manpower to regulate the nation’s vast inland waterways.
In a statement titled, ‘Towards A Safer Water Transportation In Nigeria,’ Fadile, said NIWA has a paltry 600 staff that are mostly administrative.

Fadile, a former spokesman of NIWA, however, stated that the Authority needed more funds to recruit and train quality manpower for operational efficiency and enforcement.

“Unlike Civil Aviation where regulators are present at all operating environments, our waterways system has no such luxury. NIWA’s total manpower is a paltry 600, the bulk of it are administrative staff. It is a joke to expect NIWA to police 3,000 km of navigable waterways. This fact alone supports the logic that the Authority needs more funds to recruit and train quality manpower for operations and enforcement.”

“It is time for both the federal and state legislators to begin to make a solid case for budgetary augmentation for NIWA. Even the organised private sector can support in providing basic infrastructure like new boats and other facilities. The waterways are so crucial that in some rural areas – and there are many of them – boats are the only means of transportation.

“When the waterways are safe and efficient, the entire economy benefits. It is no longer a point of contention that it is far cheaper to transport bulk goods on the waterways than by road.”
Fadile further stated that the state government can acquire and distribute modern, safe, fuel efficient boats, and provide them to operators with soft conditions.

He stated further that NIWA should introduce tougher sanctions such as heavy fines, bar operators and, where necessary, impound erring boats.

“NIWA has the power to slam heavy fines, bar operators and, where necessary, impound erring boats. Such a tough approach is necessary to avert avoidable deaths on our waterways. It would also send a sharp message that safety should be prioritised at all times. More needs to be done to sensitise passengers and operators. Again, this is where NIWA needs manpower and funds to spread the message.

“It is not helpful to pretend that NIWA has the funding capacity to provide all the needed transportation on the waterways, a very vast and increasingly active part of the economy. This is where state governments need to intervene. No fewer than 26 states of the federation are accessible via the waterways. States can acquire and distribute modern, safe, fuel efficient boats, and provide them to operators with soft conditions if not for free. NIWA regularly trains some of the operators; that’s barely enough.

“States should step in with more technical manpower development support, particularly in their catchment areas. This would be a massive compliment to NIWA’s efforts.

NIWA makes a point of providing safety facilities such as life jackets. During my years at NIWA, Management initiated a well-received programme to donate life jackets and other facilities to waterways communities across the country.”

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