NIWA commiserates with Anambra over boat mishap

The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has commiserated with the people of Anambra over Friday’s boat mishap that led to the loss of 10 lives at Ogbaru.

It is with shock and sadness that NIWA commiserates with the people and government of Anambra over the mishap which consumed 10 lives at Umnnakwo, in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra.

The boat mishap was described as a mechanical and human error.

It could have been averted, however, if the basic safety guidelines of wearing life jackets and avoiding overloading were adhered to,’’ NIWA’s spokesman, Malam Jibril Darda’u stated in Abuja.

He stated that a report from NIWA’s office in Onitsha, Anambra, showed that the wooden boat involved in the accident had 48 passengers on board when it took off. Only one of the 48 occupants of the boat wore a life jacket, and he survived the accident, he added.

At a point, the outboard engine developed a mechanical fault and could not restart.

All efforts by the captain of the boat to restart the engine proved abortive and at that point, the wave of the river started to pull the boat backwards towards a bridge linking Umunnakwo and Ossomala.

Some of the passengers who could swim jumped into the river for safety, while others tried to push the boat away from the bridge.

Those that could not swim were trapped in the boat and out of fear, they all moved to one side of the boat.

And as soon as the boat collided with the bridge, it capsized leaving 10 women and children dead.

Thirty-eight of the passengers, including five children were rescued alive,’’ Darda’u stated.

He stressed that NIWA had continually distributed free life jackets to boat operators associations in all its 23 area offices nationwide.

It also conducts sensitisation campaigns and training for boat operators and waterways users on the importance of adhering to safety guidelines, he stated.

Darda’u stated also that in addition to these, NIWA regularly patrolled waterways to effect quick response in the event of emergencies.