The ill-fated Lalek Marine boat that capsized on Friday night with 14 passengers onboard failed to adhere to 6pm sailing regulation guiding water transportation services in Lagos, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said.
According to preliminary report on the sad incident released by the Lagos area office of NIWA, the boat operator apart from violating the extant law guiding the time of operation, which is 6pm and not 8pm, also overloaded the boat against the Covid-19 protocol which allows only 60 percent carrying-capacity for all types of boats in order to encourage social distancing.
“We at NIWA responded immediately and joined the Marine police, LASWA and other concerned agencies to rescue the 14 passengers and also recovered six others already drowned, with one missing,” explained a statement signed by Sarat Lara Braimah, Lagos area manager, NIWA.
According to Braimah, the Ebute Ero jetty, which was the departure point of the ill-fated boat, will henceforth be monitored by NIWA police pending the conclusion of investigation on the incident.
She further disclosed that the owner of the boat is being tracked down by NIWA to offer explanation on how the unfortunate incident happened.
She noted that NIWA management had about a month ago offered waiver and reduced sundry fees as well as other operational charges across board in the brown water economy to help stakeholders stick to post Covid-19 protocols and to check tendencies that might encourage violation of extant regulation.
“The Managing Director of NIWA, George Moghalu, knew some operators might be tempted to make quick money in order to make up for the lost opportunities and financial losses experienced during the lockdown. Therefore, he was proactive to reduce the fees and charges, knowing the expected impact of the new normal on operators but we can see from what happened that some operators are ‘so uncaring and selfish’ to end the lives of innocent people through blatant violation of the rules of engagement,” Braimah said.