Barely six days after a boat mishap on River Niger claimed several lives in Malale village in Borgu Local Government Area of Niger State, another mishap has occurred leaving no fewer than 18 persons dead.
According eyewitness, the accident occurred when a boat conveying people from Kokoli to Ulakami capsized at about 4pm. The passengers were returning from a market in Kokoli, which holds every Thursday.
The boat was said to be conveying about 80 people when it split into two, throwing the passengers into the river.
A survivor, Umar Ibrahim, who spoke to our correspondent said, “We were in the middle of the 10 kilometre journey, when the boat split into two throwing all of us into the water. People started screaming and falling into the water.”
Ibrahim stated that he was able to rescue about 10 women and children adding that the men could take care of themselves and most of them assisted in the rescue to reduce the casualty figure.
He added that the intervention of the boat captains and some passengers who could swim also helped to reduce the number of victims.
“I thank almighty Allah for using the boat driver and other good swimmers to come to our rescue fast, because the bank of the river was far away from us. The other boat drivers rushed towards us and put those of us that were rescued on their boats. Some people were also very tired,” he added.
The village head, Mohammed Garba, confirmed that after the incident, he went round to find out how many people were missing and they recorded 18.
Though some villagers, said, “The river is angry because it has not be given its yearly sacrifice,” some were of the opinion that the boat was too old and was not maintained.
The Special Adviser to the Governor on Disaster and Emergency Management, Mohammed Saba, appealed to them to remain calm as people were blaming the boat operators for the deaths.
Meanwhile, the National Emergency Management Agency has attributed the high level of casualty in the last week’s boat mishap in Tunga Na’ Illo, Borgu Local Government Area of the state, to the lack of the state government’s presence in the area.
Speaking at a one-day sensitisation workshop on liquid and solid waste management, organised by the agency in Minna, the Agency’s North Central Coordinator, Mr. Ishaya Isah Chinoko, said “About 70 people died when the boat which was carrying over 100 villagers to the market suddenly developed an engine problem and capsized mid way in the river”.
The NEMA boss however maintained that the casualty figure would have been less if there were relevant state government agencies, like the police marine and organised local divers stationed there for rescue purposes in view of the heavy water transport activities in the area.