Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA), Dr Bashir Jamoh, says inter-agency collaboration was key to sustainable resolution of the problem of accidents in the Nigerian inland waterways, which have led to avoidable loss of lives and property.

Jamoh made the assertion at an awareness forum in Lagos organised by NIMASA in collaboration with the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), and Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA).

The NIMASA Director-General, represented by the Head of Marine Accident Investigation Unit, Captain Abayomi Coker, said that the Agency was committed to the search for a lasting solution to loss of lives and property in the country’s maritime domain.

“NIMASA established the Marine Accident investigation Unit to conduct investigations to establish the circumstances, and causes of accidents in the Nigerian maritime domain.

“We then identify the inadequacies in maintenance of vessel and their equipment, the competence of all shipboard staff and their operational practices and procedures. We seek measures which can be implemented to avoid reoccurrence of such accidents in future and inter Agency collaboration has been identified to play a major role,” he said.

Officials of the MWUN, NIWA, NPA and LASWA joined their colleagues from NIMASA to engage non-convention boat operators on boat maintenance, boarding and disembarking procedures, marine accident reporting procedures, firefighting and prevention procedures and protection of the marine environment amongst other issues.

In a related development, graduating students from the Federal College of Fisheries and Marine Research, were drilled on safety measures onboard seagoing vessels by NIMASA.

In his address at the event, NIMASA DG, Dr Bashir Jamoh, noted that majority of accidents in the maritime sector were caused as a result of human errors and that understanding the basic factors concerning the human element was an essential step toward forestalling or mitigating such accidents.

“As the Maritime Safety Administration for Nigeria and in line with its mandate to ensure safety of navigation and the protection of the Nigerian marine environment and its resources, NIMASA has continued to initiate and promote safety culture to reduce or possibly prevent accidents in our water ways. You would all agree with me that prevention is better and cheaper than cure,” he DG said.

The DG further stated that the lecture series was initiated for seafarers/cadets in approved maritime institutions, with the objective of educating them on lessons learnt from accidents that occurred within the Nigerian maritime domain and accidents that affected vessels of Nigerian interest outside the country.

According to Jamoh, “Various issues caused accidents within our marine environment, and as an Agency, we have taken note and have a history of them.

“We are not only being reactive, but are poised to continue to take proactive measures in addressing them. Therefore, it is our intention to build on our efforts to ensure sustainability in this regard because NIMASA believes that this will enhance and promote safety culture in our work environment and guard against re-occurrence.”

Assistant Director, Public Relations, NIMASA, Osagie Edward, explained in a statement he made available to News Express on Sunday, that the International Maritime Organization (IMO’s) casualty Investigation Code of 2008 which seeks to promote a common approach to safety investigation of marine casualties and incidents has placed obligation on all member states to carry out an impartial investigation with the sole purpose of learning safety lessons from marine accidents without apportioning blames or liabilities.