The Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria has appealed to the Federal Government to bail them out with funds, as the prices of spare parts have gone beyond their reach.
The National President of ATBOWATON, Tarzan Balogun, in a chat with Financial Street on Friday, lamented negligence of the maritime sector by the government.
“Government assists air transporters with bailout funds; but in the maritime sector, there is nothing like that. Spare parts and engines are capital intensive,” he said.
The group, however, lamented multiple taxation by regulatory agencies, adding that the association had reported to the National Inland Waterways Authority, but nothing was done.
Balogun added, “Some people don’t buy boats, spare parts or even fuel; but they would stand at a jetty and start collecting money with force from the boat operators. We have reported the issue to NIWA, but nothing has been done. They do anything to collect this money.
“Most of our members had to pay them because if they fail to, they would fight our men. They have turned themselves to touts on the waterways, but we, as an association, are peace-loving. We invested our money in this capital-intensive business.”
He noted that the boat operators pay local council authorities, LASWA, NIWA and another groups that extort them.
Responding, however, Secretary of the Maritime Workers Union of Nigeria, Boat Operators Unit, Owolabi Omotayo, argued that “MWUN is backed by the Trade Union Act” to collect its statutory dues at the various jetties.
There is no ignorance in law, Owolabi said, adding that all workers and operators of the boats across the country are automatic members of the union.
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