· Govt picks medical bill of accident victims
Former Gov. Timipre Sylva of Bayelsa and the immediate past Minister of State For Petroleum Resources has called for improved regulation of marine transportation in the country.
Sylva made the call in a statement issued by Mr Julius Bokoru, his Special Assistant on Media and Public Affairs.
He expressed shock and grief over last Thursday’s cargo boat mishap in the state.
The boat was enroute Okpoama, Brass, from Swali in Yenagoa when it capsized on Thursday at Okoroma in Nembe Local Government Area.
The casualty figures from the boat, which carried over 100 passengers, was yet to be ascertained as there was no manifest of persons on board.
The Spokesperson for the state Police Command, SP Asinim Butswat, said on Sunday that death toll from the accident currently stands at five.
He, however, said the search and rescue operations is continuing.
Sylva, who commiserated with families who lost their relatives, bemoaned the weak regulation of the marine transport sector in Bayelsa.
“Words are not enough to console the families of the victims.
“This tragedy chose an inauspicious time to come and while it is difficult, we must let the families know that we love them and we have them in our prayers,” Sylva said.
While lamenting the recent trend of frequent marine accidents across the state, Sylva called for better regulation of the country’s waterways, especially maritime transportation.
He called on relevant authorities saddled with regulatory duties in inland waterways transportation to sit up to forestall further incidents.
The former governor commended Bayelsa people for bonding together in a common march of humanity as everyday people took fishing boats and volunteered for the ongoing search and rescue efforts.
He noted that the community driven rescue efforts by volunteers saved lives in the boat accident.
Meanwhile, the State Government has taken over the medical bills of the victims of the boat mishap.
Governor Douye Diri, on Sunday, directed the Commissioner for Health to ensure that the state government picks the bill of hospitalised victims.
Speaking during the Easter Sunday service at the King of Glory Chapel in Government House, Yenagoa, Governor Diri, who sympathized with families that lost individuals in the boat accident, also directed the Health Commissioner to refund to survivors whatever they had spent on treatment.
His Chief Press Secretary, Mr Daniel Alabrah, quoted the governor as directing all relevant authorities in the transport sector, especially those in charge of the waterways, to ensure that all safety measures were duly complied with henceforth to avert another of such accident.
Governor Diri said his administration will not hesitate to sanction anyone found wanting in the discharge of their duties as government will no longer allow such avoidable accidents.