Marine Engineer faults life-jacket usage in covered boats in Nigeria



Charges NIMASA on marine safety education
  
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Mr. Akin Olaniyan, a fellow of the Nigerian Society of Engineers, a CEO of a Class Society and the Deputy President of the Centre for Marine Surveyors of Nigeria, has spoken against the use of life-jackets by passengers inside a covered boat.

Olaniyan told Onepageafrica in an interview that putting on a life-jacket while inside a covered boat was wrong and that it actually puts passengers at greater risk should there be a mishap.

Olaniyan, therefore, called on the Nigeria Maritime Administration and Safety Agency(NIMASA) to take on that important duty of safety, to educate and ensure compliance, on the appropriate way that a life-jacket should be used depending on the type of ferry.

“NIMASA is primarily in charge of safety in the waterways. Anything that concerns the safety of lives is to be in their portfolio. World over, the way safety is administered on water is simple, because inland waterways is indigenous to the people. A lot of the rules and regulations evolve with the people that use it, and that is what determines the development of a maritime nation. You start from within to outside, that is, your culture starts from within and graduates going out.

“NIMASA is supposed to midwife the safety culture. You know culture is dynamic, and NIMASA is supposed to tend it and see that it develops in a positive manner. The issue of accidents and mishaps on our waterways really leave a lot on the plate of NIMASA, they are supposed to educate the people on how to use the waterways. We cannot depend on the technology of canoes that were developed in the 16th century.”

Referring to the recent commissioning of five boats by the Lagos State Government, Olaniyan said the State had done well with the quality of boats, but pointed to the fact that all passengers had to put on their life-jackets as they entered the boats.

His words: “Pertaining to inland waterways safety, people are not doing the correct thing. In Lagos State, I saw that people were asked to put on life-jackets as they enter the ferry .It means you are limiting a pregnant woman and a child from using the ferry. And this is de-marketing the whole procedure of developing inland waterways transportation. If you want to board a plane, are you asked to put on a parachute and a helmet, for just in case of an accident? Nobody will board the plane.

“What is permitted and done in other climes is that if you have a ferry that is covered, you need not use life-jackets inside the ferry, because that itself is a safety breach. In case of any mishap, it will not allow for easy exit from the ferry.”

Olaniyan added that: “Any ferry on water, must be approved to meet the specific built by NIMASA. NIMASA would have adjudged the ferry safe enough for use. It is for open boats that you use life-jackets. But for boats that are more than 16 ft(4.8 m) and that is well sheltered, the life-jacket should be under the seat, adequate numbers, and other lifebuoys should be provided.”

The marine engineer also charged NIMASA on ensuring that henceforth all ferries, including trawlers, on the nation’s water bear Nigeria Flag, because it falls under Cabotage, while also ensuring that they meet approved designs and built according to required standard.

He added that his association would also continue to carryout its advocacy role in ensuring the right things are done for every water transport user to be educated on safety on the waterways.