By Mary Agidi & Tola Gbadamosi
Ondo State Government has unfolded her safety plans for inland travellers towards enusuring that they are well protected and entitled to compensation in case of boat mishap leading to casualties.
To this end, the government has promised to clear waterways in Ilaje, Ese-Odo and environs to be accident free.
The travellers’ safety plan also entails a compensation of N200, 000 for a victim who died as a result of accident, a sum of N100, 000 for a victim who suffered permanent disability, and up to N25,000 for medical expenses.
Disclosing this was the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Barrister Tobi Ogunleye, during a stakeholders’ meeting on the project which is to provide relief to victims of boats mishap held at the Conference Hall of the Ondo State Ministry of Transport at the weekend.
Ogunleye emphasised the need for the waterways in Ilaje, Ese-Odo and environs to be accident-free, noting that the state government is ensuring that indigenes and non-indigenes of the state are not caught unawares in case of any boat mishap while going about their day to day businesses in the riverine communities.
Aside the compensation, Ogunleye noted that the initiative would also improve the economy of the state, adding that the needed equipment for the clearing of water ways is ready.
The leaders of the various unions unanimously, while reacting to the development, decried the neglect suffered by them from previous government and called for concrete jetties to be built, as well as provision of safety jackets and modern engine boats by the state government.
The Special Adviser said: “The Government of Arakurin Odunayo Akeredolu (SAN) is directly involved and interested in the affairs and welfare of all means of transport in the state. He added that the question of enforcement of the ticketing is one of the reasons for the stakeholders meeting targetted at reaching a mutual understanding on its implementation.
“Our government understands the yearnings of the people. That is why we have called for this meeting today to resolve conflicts”, he said.
He advised that the leaders of the various unions in the state: the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria and the various private unions at Agadagba-Obon and environs should not see the safety plan as a form of tax being introduced by the state government, but rather the beginning of better things to come to the riverine communities, and assured that all their demands and agitation will be considered and given priority by the state government.
He implored that they should liase with the consultant to the government to ensure the successful implementation of the safety plan.
According to him, to qualify for the safety plan, travellers within the state are to pay the sum of N50 while those traveling outside the state would pay N100.
He assured that the project would bring huge benefit to the people of Ilaje, Ese-Odo and Irele and neighbouring riverine communities, saying similar welfare programmes are being done in states like Lagos, Delta and Bayelsa.
Ogunleye advised that Travellers’ Manifest should be properly filled with the correct names and travellers should obtain the safety plan receipt from the booking clerk at the loading jetty.
Explaining the initiative to The Hope, the Director of Inland Waterways, Ondo State Ministry Of Transport, Engr. Pius Omoge, noted that the safety plan is a new programme designed to ensure safety of travellers travelling within and out of Ondo State.
He noted that the Amphibex 400 Machine for clearing hyacinth from the waterways has been procured by the state government, adding that by the end of the month, the manufacturer of the machine is expected in Nigeria to get it ready for deployment to the riverine communities for commencement of work.
The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Transport, Engr Tayo Adeniyi, who described the meeting as an exploratory one, appealed to all stakeholders, especially the unions’ executives to cooperate with the Consultant to ensure, that the safety plan is successful.
He assured the people of the communities of ample job opportunities for their youth as a result of training programme organised by the state government for graduates who can be useful in the state’s marine machines operation.
The Ondo State Inland Water Ways Travelers Safety plan has Rich Auto Concept (RAC), as authorised Managing Consultant while Consolidated Hallmark Insurance Plc is the underwriter.