Operator’s negligence caused Anambra boat mishap – NIWA


By Abiodun OBA


The boat accident at Umumu Umuenwelum Anam in Anambra West Local Government Area of Anambra State, was caused by boat operator’s carelessness, night journey, and overloading.

The January 4, 2024, incident claimed eight lives, while 38 persons were rescued.

The National Inland Waterways Authority revealed during a fact-finding mission to the scene of the accident on Wednesday.

The NIWA Area Manager in Onitsha, who led the fact-finding journey, Suleiman Nicholas said, “NIWA is not happy that lives are being lost on the waters and we have not been told the truth about the boat accident, that is the reason we are embarking on this journey to uncover the real causes so that we will forestall future occurrence.

“I was called that there was a boat accident by 8pm on that day. So the boat must have left very late at Idah for it to get to Umumu Umuenwelum Anam by 8pm when the accident happened.

“We discovered that none of the passengers rescued or dead wore safety jackets, that was wrong, and we are appealing for ways to make the waterways safe.”

He, however, berated the members of the boat association for carelessness in handling passengers, bringing out their boats for night journeys, allowing passengers without life jackets to board their boats and non-use of manifests provided by NIWA.

He added, “I should be informed of any boat that left late for any reason. If you don’t put your boat on water,  passengers will not come and it will not move. To reduce 40 per cent of accidents on the waters, night journeys should be avoided. Night journey is 40 per cent risk on the waters.

“Private operators should provide life jackets for passengers, NIWA has been providing life jackets for passengers during safety campaigns, we provide manifests but they are not for night journeys, we discourage night journeys and that is why we direct that manifests should not be given for night journeys.

“Boats should not move at night. The law says 6am to 6pm for movement of boats and passengers. The boat owner is supposed to be arrested because he is going against navigational law. If the boat was travelling in the daytime, it could be able to avert any blockade. ”

Also addressing NIWA officials, journalists and Marine police security men, who were also part of the visit at the scene, a community member, identified as Joseph Emeka, disclosed that the boat is still being trapped in the river, but the engine has been recovered.

Emeka said the depth of where the boat was trapped is more than 2.5 metres, adding that it was around 8 pm on the day that they got information and rushed to the scene for a rescue mission.

At the take-off point of the ill-fated boat, at Ojolofe Idah Water Front in Kogi State, Idris Ibrahim, who spoke on behalf of the chairman of Idah Boat Owners Association, said the driver of the boat was trying to dodge sand and wood before the accident happened.

© 2024, maritimemag. All rights reserved.

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