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Fri, 12 Apr 2024 Article

Sailing Through Dangerous Water Without Life Jacket, Who Does That?

By SANDRA IJEOMA OKOYE
SANDRA IJEOMA OKOYESANDRA IJEOMA OKOYE
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It is not strange to explain to anyone that life jackets are designed to keep individuals afloat in water. When someone is sailing, especially on open water, there is always a risk of falling overboard due to rough seas, sudden maneuvers, or accidents. In fact, without a life jacket, the chances of drowning increase significantly.

In fact, without resorting to exaggeration in this context, sailing the water without wearing a life jacket can indeed be an act of carelessness, and therefore permit me to express the following views as the reasons why.

First and foremost, in an emergency situations, even experienced sailors can encounter unexpected emergencies, such as equipment failure, storms, or collisions. In such situations, having a life jacket on ensures that the person remains buoyant and can await rescue or swim to safety.

Secondly, in an unpredictable situation, water conditions can change rapidly. A calm day can turn into rough waters due to wind, tides, or currents. If someone falls into the water without a life jacket, they may struggle to stay afloat, especially if they are injured or disoriented.

Similar to the foregoing situation is cold water shock which is on its own a real danger. When immersed in cold water, the body’s natural response is to gasp and hyperventilate, which can lead to inhaling water. A life jacket helps keep the head above water during this critical initial phase.

Also, unpredictability on waters can manifest in the form of fatigue and exhaustion. Thus, swimming for extended periods can be exhausting, especially if the person is fully clothed or carrying heavy gear. A life jacket provides buoyancy, conserving energy and preventing fatigue.

Still in a similar vein, there could be unexpected falls when sailing through rough and dangerous waters, particularly when riding in canoe or speed boat. Accidental falls can happen even when someone is careful. A sudden slip, trip, or loss of balance can result in an unplanned entry into the water, or even when already sitting in the chosen vehicles. Against the foregoing backdrop, it is compulsorily expedient to wearing a life jacket as it minimizes the risk of falling into the water.

In fact, there is need to recall in this context that laws and regulations, though varies in various countries, make it mandatory that travelers and fun seekers who chose to travel through the water must adorn life jackets.

It is unarguably against the foregoing backdrop that the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), hitherto Inland Waterways Department (IWD) of the Federal Ministry of Transport, metamorphosed into an Authority vide an act of the National Assembly, CAP 47, Laws of the Federation of Nigeria (LFN), 2004 (Decree No. 13 of 1997), established with the primary responsibility to improve and develop Nigeria’s inland waterways for navigation.

In fact, many jurisdictions mandate the use of life jackets in specific situations, warning that ignoring these requirements can lead to fines or legal consequences.

Thus, the law establishing NIWA gave it the following statutory roles that cut across providing regulation for inland water navigation, and this entails ensuring development of infrastructural facilities for a national inland waterways connectivity with economic centers using the River Ports and nodal points for inter-nodal exchanges;

Also, the agency ensures the development of indigenous technical and managerial skills to meet the challenges of modern inland waterways transportation. In fact, there are several other functions and powers of the authority properly enunciated and documented in laws establishing NIWA (NIWA ACT CAP N47 LFN 2004).

Given the foregoing backdrop, it is no wonder that the agency has from time to time, particularly in Lagos, distributed free life Jackets to boat operators.

At this juncture, permit me to disclose in this context that I was inspired to express this view as a result the sad occurrence in the Nollywood industry where Jnr Pope died from an accident he had on Anam River in Anambra State on the way, with his professional colleagues, to a shooting location. Since the gory incident occurred, not a few Nigerians have been calling out Nollywood over the wrongdoings in the industry as they questioned why Jnr Pope was not given a life jacket.

In fact, the actor made an 8-minute long video, lamenting over the unfortunate incident that could have been avoided, particularly as nobody should have to lose their lives while trying to find their daily bread.

To my view, Jnr Pope should have not agreed to journey through the water without a life jacket, especially considering how poor the health care system in this part of the country is in case of emergency.

However, in as much as I sympathize for his family, especially his wife and children who would never see him again, it is difficult to refrain from understanding the fact that sailing through dangerous waters without life jacket is risky, and ask the question “Who Does That?”

At this juncture, it is expedient to remind every professional in the Nollywood industry, particularly producers, that life jackets save lives. Whether you are an experienced sailor or a novice, wearing one is a simple yet crucial step to ensure your safety on the water. In fact, properly fitting and fastening a life jacket is essential, and knowing how to put it on quickly can make a significant difference in an emergency. So, before setting sail, always prioritize safety by donning a life jacket in the waters.

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