In a heartfelt and somber statement, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has expressed its profound condolences to the Government and people of Kebbi State following a tragic boat mishap that claimed lives and left others in distress.
This is even as it urged users of the inland waterways across the country to strictly adhere to all safety guidelines before and during their voyage.
According to an official statement made available to our correspondent, the accident which occurred on Monday, 2nd October 2023, involved a wooden boat carrying 17 passengers from Kasabo village in Agwara Local Government of Niger State, en route to Yauri market in Kebbi State.
Preliminary findings from NIWA’s area office in Yauri, Kebbi State, indicate that the boat capsized due to a heavy windstorm during adverse weather conditions, ultimately leading to the accident.
According to NIWA, regrettably, the mishap was compounded by human error, as the boat’s sailor failed to heed the turbulent weather warnings. Instead of seeking shelter at the nearest riverbank, a prescribed safety measure in such conditions, the sailor pressed on with the journey. This led to panic among the passengers, prompting some to leap into the water without life jackets, ultimately resulting in the boat’s capsizing.
NIWA said, its rescue team stationed at the Yauri Area Office, in conjunction with other agencies, immediately launched rescue operations and fortunately, nine individuals were successfully rescued, while eight lifeless bodies were recovered from the water.
NIWA lamented that despite persistent efforts to sensitize boat operators on safety measures and conduct training programs, this unfortunate incident underscores the ongoing challenge posed by some boat operators’ disregard for NIWA’s safety guidelines.
The statement stressed that NIWA is resolute in its commitment to ongoing training initiatives and awareness campaigns aimed at preventing such tragedies in the future.
It however extends NIWA’s heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families, praying for them to find the strength to bear this irreplaceable loss.
———–Kebbi Govt. To Sanitize Water Transportation As 8 Bodies Recovered
Meanwhile, Gov. Nasir Idris of Kebbi State, says that the state government will set up a taskforce to sanitize water transportation as eight dead bodies have been recovered after a recent boat mishap in the state.
Idris stated this on Wednesday when he paid a condolence visit to the Emir of Yauri, Dr Muhammad Zayyanu-Abdullahi, in Yauri Local Government Area of the state.
He said,” The visit is sequel to the recent boat mishap in the area that resulted in the death of many persons.
“A task force will be set up to ensure the enforcement of all safety rules and regulations on waterways in the state.
“The task force will also enforce the use of life jackets as well as prevent overloading.
“We will partner with the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) to ensure the efficient operation of the task force.
The governor pledged to work in such a way that “Even if there is an accident, the severity will be reduced by the special grace of God.”
The Governor said the state government will take possible action to prevent the perennial recurrence of boat mishaps resulting in the loss of lives and properties.
He warned that henceforth, “Any passenger who refuses to use a life jacket will not be allowed to board any boat.”
“The task force will stop all boats from embarking on any journey when night falls or when the weather is bad,” Idris said.
The Governor announced a donation of N1 million to each family of the victims.
Earlier, Zayyanu-Abdullahi expressed delight over the condolence visit by the Governor.
The Emir described the accident as tragic in view of the loss of lives of passengers.
He said contrary to social media reports claiming the death of 30 passengers, only 17 passengers were in the boat and eight dead bodies had so far been recovered while rescue operation is continuing.
“Social Media users should always verify their stories before releasing them to the public,” he cautioned.
Zayyanu-Abdullahi commended the Governor for suspending mining activities in the state, saying that the law would go a long away in ensuring security and protection of lives in the mining communities.