Live Stream
Radio Ndarason Internationale

Local News

President calls for thorough investigation into recurring fatal boating accidents

14 September 2023
Reading time: 4 minutes

Exact number of deaths from three separate boating accidents at the weekend still unknown as rescue operations continue.

President Bola Tinubu has called for a thorough investigation into recurring fatal boating accidents in Nigeria after at least 45 people drowned in three separate incidents this past weekend.
The accidents took place in the Niger, Adamawa and Borno states. The exact number of drownings was not yet known as rescue operations are ongoing. However, the death toll is expected to rise because many people are still missing.
Tinubu said government agencies would be held accountable for any regulatory or safety lapses and said comprehensive safety measures and enforcement must be carried out on boating activities in the country.

He directed government agencies, including law enforcement, maritime safety and transportation safety authorities, to collaborate on identifying the causes of these “unfortunate and preventable disasters”.
Tinubu sent his condolences to the families of those who had lost loved ones and wished the people who were injured a speedy recovery.

Hassan Umar Shallpella, a journalist from Adamawa, told RNI that there were 23 people on a canoe which overturned in Lake Njuwa. Rescue operations are continuing in the Rugange region of the Yola South Local Government Area. The boat was said to be carrying women and children returning from farms.

Shallpella said the accident happened in the afternoon on Friday, September 8. At the time of writing, eight corpses had been recovered, seven people are missing and eight had been rescued.

He said relatives of the missing people had little to no hope of seeing their loved ones alive again. Rescue workers said the boat was overloaded. Instead of 15 passengers, there were 23 on board.
Malam Garba Salihu, the director-general of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), said in a statement that the boating accident occurred on Sunday, September 10, at about 7.30am between the Jabba and Kainji dams in Gbajibo in the Mokwa Local Government Area.

He said 30 corpses had been recovered and 30 people had been rescued. He confirmed that the search for missing passengers is ongoing.

There were more than 100 people on board when the accident occurred. The agency is working with Mokwa government authorities and community divers.

The corpses of seven people, including a baby, were recovered after a boating accident in Maiduguri on Sunday. Two people were rescued and four are still missing.

Mohammed Nuhu told RNI that two of the missing people were his neighbours.
He said most people in the area used canoes because they were cheap, with trips costing only ₦20. Most people could not afford to pay for a tricycle (Keke Napep) or a car every day.

“On Sunday at about 9.30am, my neighbour James and his wife took the boat to attend a church service. They are still missing. Their children are heartbroken and they are hoping their parents will be rescued. But they fear they may not see their parents again.”

Nuhu said the main problem was that sailors overloaded their boats and this was mostly the cause of the accidents, especially in the rainy season when the rivers were full.

Mohammed Mohammed, a sailor, told RNI that he blamed fellow sailors who used oars that were too short to navigate through the water. He said they needed to use long oars, especially if the water was deep.

“The short oars can easily slip into the water and sailors cannot retrieve them, causing panic among passengers. That’s how boats end up capsizing.”

He said a lack of life jackets, overloading of boats and violations of safety measures contributed to the high number of boating accidents.

Mohammed Mohammed, commenting on the boating accident in Maiduguri, said: “The sailor saved two of the passengers but could not save the rest. The corpses of five people, including a baby, were recovered on Sunday evening and two more were found on Monday morning. Local divers and police are still searching for four missing people.”

Despite the accidents people are still making use of the boats.

Mohammed Auwal Ibrahim said: “I know what happened yesterday [Sunday] but I will continue to travel by boat. It is what I have always done. I use them to get to work. I am not scared. If I am destined to die in a boating accident it will happen.”

Falmata Mohammed Ali

About the author