Mr Ikechi Uko
A tourism businessman, Mr Ikechi Uko, on Monday advised tourists intending to hike at waterfalls and at other water bodies to acquire adequate knowledge about hiking to guide against accidents.
Uko gave the advice while speaking with the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) against the backdrop of the hiking mishap that occurred at Farin Ruwa Waterfall, Nasarawa State, on Saturday, Jan. 23.
He said that Nigerian tour operators and tour guides must also get enlightened on the safety rules and the required first aid in hiking to further guide tourists.
NAN reports that one of a 60-man hiking group from Abuja lost his life at the Farin Ruwa Waterfall on Jan. 23 when he dived deep into the waterfall and couldn’t get rescued promptly.
“We need to enlighten ourselves and tourists on how hiking should be done. Each team leader, leading a hiking group should be registered and be known to the people.
“I advise tour operators to also make thorough research about tourists sites they intend taking tourists to before embarking on such trips,’’ he said.
Uko said that an agreement must be reached between the tour operators and tourists on adhering to safety rules at waterfalls.
He said tour operators should also ensure that tourists signed indemnity forms before the commencement of hiking as it is done in South Africa and in other developed countries.
“Hiking done in the developed countries is now being embraced by local tourists. We need to encourage this but adequate knowledge should be given to tourists.
“Tour operators and guides must be conversant with hiking rules and regulations and first aid to administer in case of accidents,’’ he said.
Uko urged state governments to engage the services of lifeguards at waterfalls and at beaches to ensure safety of tourists.
He said these lifeguards as expert swimmers would be in the best position to promptly rescue swimmers, hikers and all who got into difficulty while exploring.
“States should work on getting lifeguards at each waterfall and beach; these people will discover any armful thing in the water and alert tourists as fast as possible.
“Also states must work on equipping waterfalls and beaches with necessary life-saving appliances like lifeline rope, lifebuoy, floaters and more,’’ Uko said. (NAN)