The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, has reacted to the reported drowning of the water incident along River Buruku, Benue State that claimed eleven lives recently
There were earlier reports that eighteen people lost their lives in the water mishap.
But reacting to the incident in a rejoinder signed by Tayo Fadile, General Manager, Corporate Affairs of NIWA, the agency stated that though eleven death have been officially declared, the water disaster was caused due largely to human error.
According to him, the boat in question was originally designed to convey vehicles against its being converted to passenger boat even as the ill fated boat was said to have been carrying 30 passengers which according to the agency was above its capacity.
The release read:
The attention of National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has been drown to media reports claiming that eighteen (18) people lost their lives along River Buruku in Benue State.
However, information made available to us by NIWA’s Area Manager in Benue State, Engr. Danjuma Mohammed Kabiru who visited the site of the Boat accident confirmed that eleven (11) people died while twelve (12) were rescued and eighteen (18) motorcycles that are on the boat recovered. The search for the seven (7) remaining bodies is ongoing.
It should be noted that as against the standard practice, a vehicular boat was used to ferry the 30 passengers on board which was obviously overloaded.
The Area Manager also confirm that against NIWA safety guideline which stipulated that boats and river craft should not travel after 6.00pm on our waterways, this ill-fated boat started its journey by 9:00pm and also contrary to NIWA safety guidelines none of the 30 passengers were wearing life jackets.
While we commiserate with the Government and people of Benue State on this unfortunate incident, we are also using this opportunity to urge all intending passengers on our waterways to always adhere to the safety guidelines as provided by NIWA, especially the need to wear life jacket and to discourage traveling on our waterways after 6:00pm.
We are particularly worried that a ferry boat designed to carry only vehicles was illegally turned to a passenger vessel, causing the loss of eighteen (18) precious lives.