Water Ways: Group Mourn Victims of Boat Mishap

Water Ways: Group Mourn Victims of Boat Mishap

…Urge FG To Ensure Safety of Lives On Waterways

The Civil Right Advocacy Group, Human Rights Writers Association of Nigeria (HURIWA), is deeply saddened and outraged by the tragic boat accident that claimed the lives of at least 28 people in Niger State on Sunday.

The Group in a statement by its National Coordinator, Comrade Emmanuel Onwubiko, expressed the group’s heartfelt condolences to the families and communities of the victims, and pray for the speedy recovery of the survivors.

HURIWA lamented that the incident is not an isolated one, but a symptom of a larger problem of negligence, corruption and mismanagement that plagues the inland waterways sector in Nigeria. According to the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), Nigeria has about 10 000 km of navigable waterways, but only about 3 000 km are being utilized.

This means that millions of Nigerians, who depend on rivers for transportation, fishing and farming, are exposed to unsafe and substandard boats, lack of life jackets, poor weather forecasting, inadequate regulation and enforcement, and environmental degradation.

Suggesting urgent steps, the federal and state governments has to take in order address the menace of boat accidents and ensure the safety and security of Nigerians on the waterways:

“Implement and enforce strict safety standards for all boats operating on the inland waterways, including regular inspection, registration, licensing, insurance and maintenance. Boats that do not meet these standards should be impounded and their owners prosecuted.

“Provide adequate and affordable lifejackets for all passengers and crew members on board boats, and make it mandatory for them to wear them at all times.

“Invest in improving the infrastructure and facilities of the inland waterways sector, including dredging, navigation aids, communication systems, weather monitoring, rescue operations, emergency response and public awareness. „The government should also collaborate with private sector partners and civil society organizations to enhance the capacity and efficiency of the sector.“

HURIWA believes that these measures will go a long way in reducing the frequency and severity of boat accidents in Nigeria, and in safeguarding the lives and livelihoods of millions of Nigerians who depend on the inland waterways and urge the Government to act swiftly and decisively on this matter, before more lives are lost while appealing to the public to cooperate with the authorities.

The Non-governmental organization which promotes human rights, democracy and good governance in Nigeria expressed committed to holding the government accountable for its actions and inactions that affect the welfare and well-being of Nigerians.

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