…As 8 people drown in Pakistani boat accident***
The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) says all boats operating on the state’s waterways are due for inspection in December.
The General Manager of the LASWA, Mr Oluwadamilola Emmanuel, disclosed this in an interview in Lagos on Monday.
Emmanuel said that the authority needed to step up its safety procedure on waterways in line with Gov. Babajide Sanwo-Olu’s renewed commitment toward development of water transportation.
“One of the things we do to further enhance safety on waterways is to carry out biannual inspection on boats. Before the end of the year, I mean before Christmas, boat operators are due for inspection.
“As they come, we carry out checks on them, and wherever there are safety issues, we give them a timeline to do it; if they don’t fix it, we will go after them,” the LASWA boss said.
He said that the authority would inspect all boats to see whether they were worthy to use waterways or not in order to prevent avoidable water mishaps.
The general manager, who noted that the authority relied a lot on information and feedback from passengers, urged them to always report to the authority any threat to safety while on board.
He said: “We rely a lot on information. We have passengers feedback form as a feedback mechanism where passengers report to us if they notice anything on boats.
“We also encourage our passengers to speak up and let us know, and we will make sure that appropriate penalties are issued out to any erring boat operator who doesn’t comply accordingly with the safety procedure.
“Passengers have the responsibility to be the first line safety agent themselves by ensuring that they wear life jackets.”
On prevalent offences committed by boat operators, the general manager highlighted night travel, overloading, and removal life jacket in the middle of the journey, among others.
According to him, there has to be continuous enforcement and control to enhance and sustain safety on waterways.
He said that erring operators caught flouting safety rules and regulations were made to pay fines into the state treasury account as deterrent.
“We have sanctioned between 40 to 50 operators since the beginning of the year. They pay fines to the state government and make sure they sort out whatever safety rule and regulations broken.
“They must fix whatever problem is in their boat before they are allowed to operate on our waterways,” Emmanuel said.
In the meantime, a rescue official on Monday reported that at least eight people which includes men, women and a child were killed after a boat capsized in eastern Pakistan.
Local rescue official Zafar Iqbal said the boat carrying around 30 people and goods capsized on the Sutlej river near the city of Dipalpur.
Iqbal added that 10 people had been rescued and that the search for those missing was ongoing.
It was not yet clear what caused the accident, he said.
Local media reports said that members of a family had been travelling to a funeral when the accident took place due to overloading.
Small wooden boats are often used to transport people and goods in Pakistan.
Accidents are common as they operate without safety measures including life jackets.