The Managing Director of the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) Dr. George Moghalu has advocated a comprehensive insurance cover for cargoes and barges movement along the nation’s inland waterways.
Moghalu noted that NIWA will partner with barge operators in the development of a comprehensive insurance cover for both barges and cargoes to boost the confidence of stakeholders to embrace the sector as an alternative mode of transporting their goods.
The NIWA boss disclosed this at an interactive session with journalists in Lagos last week, while urging the citizens to desist from patronizing unregistered boat operators at odds-hours along waterways.
“90 to 95 per cent accidents happen in the night or early in the morning, saying these vessels do not have night navigational aids so therefore they should not move in the night, but people will still go to move at nights. They will avoid the right jetties and at times, they do not even move from jetties, but at river banks to the water to expose our people to dangers.
“This cannot happen in our jetties because they are monitored and there are rules that must be obeyed. You cannot onboard any vessel from any of our jetties without fully kitted, without wearing a life jacket and most people do not know that life jackets expire, but these people do not take caution and still go ahead to expose Nigerians to avoidable dangers when they are not properly kitted,” he said.
Moghalu acknowledged the need to provide the needed framework that would give both stakeholders the needed insurance to embrace the inland transport as an alternative modal means of transport.
“Out of the 10,000km stretch of the nation’s inland waterways, we should be able to operate close to 3600km. So therefore there is a need for vessels to be fully insured to give protection to importers and exporters is needed now for the sector. So improved quality insurance cover for vessels is a prime project the Authority is fully committed to in its bids to decongesting the nation’s ports and reducing pressure on Nigerian roads.
“We are looking at having quality insurance to cover both the barges and the cargoes. This was some of the issues raised by the importers, because they do not want a situation where they would gamble with their goods to bring their goods from China and Europe and then getting to lose it on the Nigerian waterways.”
According to him, because Nigerian roads are not designed to carry heavy equipment, developing inland waterways becomes imperative to aid the nation’s road infrastructure which does last the test of time.
“Our roads are not designed to carry what they are carrying and there is no way our infrastructure will last. So anything we can do to reduce the pressure on our roads, we are going to support it. In a civilised society, cargoes are transported by water or rail transport. We will continue to pursue our targets till we fully achieve it.”
He said the authority would strengthen its partnership with sister agencies to bolster and improve security on the nation’s inland waterways, assuring that NIWA would explore all the security mechanism initiatives aimed at achieving a safe waterway to the fullest.