Worried by the loss of passengers’ lives on the nation’s waterways, the Nigerian Senate on Tuesday appealed to the federal government to give greater priority to water transportation and make it more safer for use.
The upper legislative chamber also advised the government to embark on policy reforms and restructuring with a view to improving the regulatory and enforcement capacity of the National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA.
It further enjoined the NIWA to dredge all waterways in the country to make them safer while also calling for the strengthening of the Marine Police to checkmate the recklessness on the part of boat drivers.
The Senate equally urged the Authority to adopt international best practices by ensuring that the most up to date vessel tracking system are installed in all the inland waterways, and also provide communications and navigational aids along with various routes of the inland waterways.
These resolutions followed a motion to that effect by Senator Adedayo Adeyeye (APC Ekiti South) and three others.
Adeyeye, while presenting the motion, said “water transportation is a means of transportation that Nigeria needs to harness as a country, because of its huge potentials with 8, 600kilometres of inland waterways and extensive coast land of about 852 kilometers”.
According to him, Nigeria boasts of the second longest waterways in Africa with River Niger and River Benue running into each other, adding that water transportation remains cheaper than other means of transportation.
While stressing the need to focus on the huge potentials of water transportation, he said despite this, it is still far behind road transportation, with an average share of about 1.6 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, GDP.
Adeyeye, who highlighted the records of boats mishaps in various states, lamented the increasing accidents on the waterways “which constitute a major threat to the growth and development of water transportation in Nigeria, which the nation can I’ll afford”.
In their contributions, Senators Bala Ibn Na’Allah (APC Kebbi South), Akom Eyakenyi (PDP Akwa Ibom South), Nicholas Tofowomo (PDP Ondo South), Michael Nnachi (PDP Ebonyi South), Lawrence Orijakpo (PDP Bayelsa West) and Binos Yaroe ( Adamawa South), urged the government to give adequate attention to water transportation not only for safety of lives, but investment in the sector.
They agreed that it is not only the cheapest, but the fastest means of transportation, especially for the people living in the riverine states.