Dredgers, boat operators disagree over causes of mishaps on waterways

June 24, 2021
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Operators under the auspices of the Dredgers Association of Nigeria (DAN) and the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) have faulted each other over what causes boat mishaps along the Lagos inland waterways.

Recall that during a stakeholders meeting held in Lagos, boat operators had accused members of DAN of littering the waterways with floating pipes which in-turn causes boat mishaps when boats hit any of theM while at top speed on the waterways.

According to Mr. Akeem Balogun, a member of ATBOWATON, “Abandoned dredging pipes currently litter the Lagos inland waterways around Ojo area of the State, thereby posing danger for unsuspecting waterways users plying the waters.”

However, responding to the claim of pipes littering the waterways, Secretary General of DAN, Mr. Richard Ntan, while speaking with the Nigerian Tribune in Lagos, debunked the claim by boat operators, stating that many of the boat drivers drive recklessly.

“First and foremost, there is nothing like dredging pipes because the kind of technology that we use to dredge the waterways no longer uses pipes. Our members use mini hyper motorized equipments nowadays. Therefore, the pipes that the boat operators are talking about don’t belong to dredgers. They are either pipes from abandoned barges or other boat crafts that have become wrecks along the Lagos waterways.

“I think the government should hold itself responsible for not clearing the waterways of wrecks. Most of the accidents are caused by logs. Pipes don’t float. Even if dredgers use pipes, there is no where it can float. The only problem for some of our members is that when they run pipes into the water, some dredgers fail to put safety signals around such area where they are working.

“However, despite the fact that some dredgers are culpable of not putting safety signals around where they work, most of the ATBOWATON boat drivers are careless. Most of them drive recklessly and thus cannot maneuver when colliding with floating objects. It’s just like driving on the highway where there are pot-holes. When driving at top speed, to avoid such ditch or pot-holes become extremely difficult. Same thing applies to the waterways; most of the ATBOWATON boat drivers are reckless. It’s good that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) wants to train them; most cannot even interpret safety signals on the waterways.

“If most of the boat drivers move at normal speed, then we wouldn’t be talking about too many mishaps along our waterways. Again, these boats vary according to engines and specification. Some are petrol engines while some are diesel engines. However, boat drivers don’t take these things into consideration. Once you are a member of ATBOWATON, you think you can just drive any boat without perquisite training. Things don’t work that way. At times, the water current is not good, but these boat drivers don’t consider such things.

“And once there is an accident, they blame the dredgers. Even though we don’t do maintenance dredging, our activities are helping to deepen the waterways. What we do is commercial dredging, and this helps to deepen the waterways. Government should even pay us for helping to deepen the waterways.”

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