Boat accidents claim 701 lives in 34 months

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No fewer than 701 persons have lost their lives in 53 boat accidents in the country between January 2020 and October 2022, The PUNCH has learnt.

The fatalities, which involved the passengers and the boat operators, were attributed to overloading, careless driving, poor maintenance of boats and turbulent weather among others.

Findings by The PUNCH indicate that boat accidents are more frequent during the rainy season between April and July.

A breakdown showed that Niger State had the highest number of recorded boat mishaps in the country with 176, followed by Kebbi, 84; Anambra 80 and Lagos, 72.

A further breakdown of the incidents showed that a total of 233 persons were killed in 2022, with Benue recording six deaths; Jigawa, 34; Bauchi, five; Taraba, 18; Niger, 16; Lagos 17; Bayelsa, 22; Anambra, 77; Delta, 5; Kogi, 4; and Sokoto, 29.

In 2021, 307 persons were reported dead with 142 in Niger; Kebbi, 76; Bayelsa, 7; Delta 2; Taraba 5; Sokoto, 13; Kano, 40; Jigawa, 7; Lagos, 11; and Ondo, 4.

A total of 161 casualties were recorded in boat mishaps in 2020. Kebbi had 8; Lagos, 44; Bayelsa, 6; Bauchi, 33; Niger, 18; Sokoto, 9; Rivers, 16; Anambra, 3; Delta, 10; and Benue, 14.

A further breakdown revealed that within the three-year review period, Benue recorded 20 deaths; Jigawa, 41; Bauchi, 38; Taraba, 23; Niger, 176; Lagos, 72; Bayelsa, 35; Sokoto, 51; Kebbi, 84; Delta, 17; Kano, 40; Ondo, 4; Anambra, 80; Kogi 4; and Rivers 16.

On April 13, 2022, at least 29 young persons died after a boat capsized in a river in Sokoto State. Five children were among those who perished in the accident.

The boat was conveying 35 people across the Shagari River when it sank. Divers were able to rescue six persons.

Also, 15 passengers died in a boat accident that occurred in the Ojo area of Lagos State on July 8.

More than 50 persons were feared dead after an overloaded boat capsized in Kebbi State on May 27, 2021, according to the authorities.

There were at least 150 passengers on board, most of whom were believed to be traders.

About 85 passengers were being ferried in a boat from Onukwu Bridge to Nkwo Ogbakuba Market, Anambra State when it capsized on Friday morning.

The Chairman, Ogbaru Flood Committee in Anambra, Mr Ogochukwu Nwasike, who confirmed the tragedy on Saturday said no government agency had visited the scene to help recover the bodies of the missing passengers.

The General Manager, Corporate Affairs, National Inland Waterways Authority, Jibril Darda’u said, ‘’From our research, major boat accidents in Nigeria happen at night and it is part of our safety measures that people should not travel at night. Mostly in the riverside areas, some traders will tell you that on their market days, they will go and sell and when they are done, they will want to go through boats with their foodstuffs and animals at the night.

“Also, the non-usage of life jackets leads to a large number of casualties. We were able to give life jackets based on our efforts in registering all the boats because it is part of our responsibilities that boats should be registered.

Corroborating NIWA, the Lagos Coordinator, National Emergency Management Authority, Farinloye Ibrahim, said, “The activities of sand drenchers on the high sea and waterways dredging or scooping sand for commercial or building purposes is concerning. They pile sand up and unknowingly for operators, they most times are not aware of the sand and they run into it.”

Source: The punch

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