CITIZENS COMPASS – THE President, Federation of Tourism Associations of Nigeria, (FtAN) Mr Nkereweum Onung , has called on the Federal Government of Nigeria to assist tourist boat operators in Nigeria to effectively respond to the demand of waterways transportation ecosystem in the country.
The FTAN leader said this, on Friday, in Lagos while condoling with Dr Gani Tarzan Balogun, President Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria ( ATBOWATON), over loss of lives at a kwara state boat accident saying time has come for for the federal and states governments to seriously consider boat transportation as a serious economy deserving funding and investment opportunities.
” We at FTAN pray that such avoidable accident should not happen again anywhere in the country and wish to reiterate that the entire water transportation economy be captured in the national developmental agenda.
As key members of our federation, we stand in a gap in prayers with ATBOWATON and all boat operators in the country at this dark period, including the families of the victims of the accident and kwara state government” he explained.
He assured the leadership of ATBOWATON that the leadership of ftan would join the ongoing efforts by the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to unravel the cause of the incident and also suggest practical operational ways to forestall such sad occurrences happening again in the future.
“Br rest assured that we shall join your team to kwara whenever you are ready and also take the campaign to keep government abreast of the need to engage opportunities to assist boat operators to sustainably and effectively contribute to national socioeconomic development, through maritime tourism ecosystem which is yet to fully tapped and harnessed.
” The Kwara waterways accident should be thoroughly evaluated beyond the rash of sympathetic interests and emotional retorts but should serve as a wake-up call for serious intervention to resolve the pains and challenges of boating economy critical to harnessing the brown water maritime tourism industry.
“Our people, particularly those around our vast littoral communities, must have access to the enabling environment to travel safely, expliot the goldmine of maritime tourism, and contribute to the economic growth of the country. ” Mr Nkereweum onung further stated.
Responding, Balogun appreciated the timely visit of the FTAN President, noting that the burden of survival by boat transport operators is huge and needs serious attention by the government.
” When accidents happen on water, there’s always the rush to blame boat operators and to many people, the issues of lack of training are usually bandied about but in truth, certain operational and cultural pressures on operators contributes sometimes to avoidable ACCIDENTS.
“From accessing spare parts, the cost of fueling boats, insurance, and absence of operational opportunities like fueling depots on waterways, cultural attitudes of our people to safe boating ecology, even taxes and levies by the authorities, can influence certain challenges.
“He that he would mobilize the members of the maritime community and stakeholders to tackle the problems of water transportation in Nigeria.