Another boat mishap In Niger State claims 18 lives
• NEMA chides State Govt for alleged negligence
• Gov Aliyu bans use of old boats in Niger
The boat, which was carrying about 80 passengers, was said to have split, 10 minutes after takeoff.
It was reportedly conveying people returning from the weekly market from Kokoli to Ulakami village in Borgu local Government Area at about 4.00pm last Thursday.
This came as the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), last week, attributed the high casualty in the first boat mishap at Tunga Na’ Illo in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State, to lack of the State Government presence in the area.
Umar Ibrahim, a survivor who narrated the incident weekend, said that the passengers were in the middle of the 10-kilometre journey when the boat suddenly split throwing all passengers aboard.
“We had just gotten to the middle of the journey when the boat split into two. People started screaming and falling into the water,” Ibrahim said.
He stated that he was able to rescue about 10 women and children, adding that the men could take care of themselves.
According to him, the men’s assistance without which the casualty figures would have been much higher was “very helpful.”
He added that if not for the quick intervention of other boat captains and some passengers who could swim, it would have been a disaster as he was not sure if he too would have survived the mishap.
The village head, Mohammed Garba, who also spoke to newsmen said the villagers, who mobilised and went to the scene discovered that only 18 people were missing as last Saturday.
A few villagers, who spoke with the newsmen, however, attributed the second boat mishap in less than one week to unnatural causes, saying thiever, a certain river god, was angry because it was not given its yearly sacrifice.
But a staff of the council, who did not want his name in print, said that the boat allegedly split because it was too old and was not properly-maintained.
Special Adviser to Governor Babangida Aliyu on Disaster and Emergency, Mohammed Shaba, who visited the sense of the mishap, appealed to the people to remain calm, as, according to him, the State Government would extend relief materials to survivors.
NEMA had attributed the high casualty in the first boat mishap to lack of government presence in the area.
Over 70 people died when the boat, which was carrying about 150 villagers to the market, suddenly developed engine problem and capsized mid-way in the river.
The NEMA North Central Coordinator, Mr. Ishaya Isah Chinoko, who stated this in Minna at a one-day sensitisation workshop on liquid and solid waste management (and their consequences on public health), noted that, if there were any government presence on ground in an event of that nature, the level of casualty would have been minimal. Meanwhile, the Niger State Governor in Minna on Sunday announced a ban on the use of old boats in ferrying passengers across rivers in the state.
The order followed the boat mishap last Thursday. “The action is intended to ensure that old and rickety boats do not continue to take valuable lives in the riverine communities,” Aliyu said in a statement issued by his spokesman, Danladi Ndayabo. Aliyu said that the Niger State Ministry for Transportation had been directed to monitor the boat operators and ensure full compliance with all safety standards.
The Governor also directed operators of such ferry boats to provide life jackets to all passengers.
Aliyu assured the people of the state that other measures would be taken to ensure safe water transportation in the state.
He prayed God to grant the families of the victims of the boat mishap the courage and fortitude to bear the loss, and to grant the deceased eternal rest.