The Lagos State Government said it would embark on an aggressive campaign and enforcement of guidelines for commercial boat operators to reduce incidents of boat mishaps in the state.
The Managing Director of Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Abisola Kamson, gave this indication in a statement issued on Sunday in Lagos.
Ms. Kamson said that the new drive was in line with the commitment of Governor Akinwunmi Ambode to ensure that water transportation remained the most efficient and cost effective mode of transportation.
She spoke on the backdrop of a boat mishap which occurred along Oke-Ira Nla, Ajah-Bayeku, Ikorodu axis of the state.
She said that LASWA was notified of the incident involving a Bayeku Ferry Association commercial boat carrying 20 passengers 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.
Ms. Kamson said that all passengers on-board wore life jackets and 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 might have been over-speeding.
She said that he was 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 safety measures and ensure that all operators comply with safety standards in line with global best practices,” she said.
Ms. Kamson said the authority, in furtherance of its core functions and policy objectives, would in the coming days, convene a stakeholders meeting where all commercial and private boat owners would converge and dialogue on the activities of boat operation in the state.
On September 23, at Sabokoji Jetty in Amuwo Odofin Local Government Area, LASWA commenced the distribution of 2,400 life jackets to students of riverine areas.
There were live demonstrations of how to wear the life jackets.