…Want state of emergency declared on waterways

…Pledge collaboration with NIWA

From TONY JOHN, Port Harcourt

The Marine Crafts Builders Association of Nigeria (MCBAN) has expressed concerns about the recurring boat mishap, noting that the country has recorded about 3,130 accidents on water in the last 10 years.


Director General, Marine Crafts Builders Association of Nigeria, Clem Ifezue, made the disclosure when he addressed journalists in Port Harcourt, Rivers State, on Wednesday.


Ifezue, who said the body was established to regulate and ensure boat and marine building in Nigeria has a standard, stated that Nigeria has about 10,000 kilometres of inland waterways, second in Africa, stretching over 50 million Nigerians living and transacting their businesses.


The group noted that Federal Government has done a lot in improving the air and land transport sectors, but not much has been witnessed in the marine sector.

He said: “I don’t think enough has been done in this sector. That’s why we have been seeing all these accidents on water here and there.

“In the last 10 years, we are looking at the statistics, Nigeria has recorded about 3,130 accidents on water. That is huge. If you divide it by 10, you are going to have over 300 accidents every year. If you divide it by 365, may be you should be having one accident everyday. And each of the accidents came with fatality. Don’t we have value for life in this country? Which accident will happen before we begin to talk?


“We have heard what happened in Niger State, Nasarawa State, and last week in Onitsha, Anambra State. Which accident will happen before we begin to take things seriously in this country? I think this is the time.

“I am appealing to Federal Government through the Ministry of Blue Economy, as a matter of urgency, to call a roundtable discussion of enforcers, users and manufacturers of these boats.”

“Look at the boat that capsized last Saturday. These a boats that were manufactured by substandard builders. We have over 30 members manufacturing solid boats in Nigeria. The boats we can say that are unsinkable because they all come with buoyancy. They cannot sink.”

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The director-general asked: “At what point can government enforce the buying of these boats from recognized professional manufacturers?”

According to him, there are several factors responsible for boat accident, which include recklessness of drivers, alcohol consumption by drivers, over- loading and non-wearing of life jacket by passengers.

He continued: “This meeting of the enforcers, the users and manufacturers of these boats is more than necessary at this point.”

The group sympathized with families that lost their loved ones in boat mishap, stressing that the accidents were avoidable.

Ifezue called all the states that are on the waterways to rise up to the occasion, knowing that human lives are involved.

He said: “Mr. President, we, as an association, are calling on you through the Minister of Blue Economy, that as a matter of urgency, declare a state of emergency on the use of our waterways. This is the time we should get it done. And I think all hands should be on deck.”

According to him, boat building in the country has existed for over 60 years, and the manufacturers have contributed immensely to the growth of Nigeria’s economy.


He lamented: “We are so disturbed that it (boat) concerns our products, but mostly gotten from unregistered boat builders and I would call them quacks. So, it is high time people began to look at that and know where they go to get their boats.”

He further added that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has the responsibility to regulate, monitor and enforce all the laws on how the waterways should be used.

Ifezue stressed: “We need to collaborate with them. We are open to that, to see that all the boats manufactured in this country are from our members, who have sworn to a very large extent, the genuineness in building these boats.

“We are calling on Federal Government, National Inland Waterways Authority that we are very available to collaborate with them, so that we can see these accidents on water are curbed to the minimum level.”

The director-general also cautioned those building substandard boats to know that they are endangering the lives of Nigerians.