According to a report by The PUNCH, the Kwara State Police Command has given a new update on the horrific boat accident in the state.
The government said that 144 people have so far been rescued from the Monday Boat mishap which claimed many lives in the Patigi local government area of Kwara state.
The police also put the death toll at 106.
The Police in a statement signed by SP Ajayi Okasanmi Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) and made available to the press on Wednesday said that the boat which capsized between Ebu and Dzakan village in Patigi local government area was loaded with about 250 passengers out of which 106 people died.
“Among the casualties were people from Ebu Village with 61 casualties, Dzakan Village with 38, Kpada Village with 4 dead, and three (3) other casualties from Kogi State, putting the total number of casualties at 106 and the total number of rescued people at about 144
“Information was received by the Divisional Police Officer of Patigi Divisional Headquarters to the effect that a boat accident occurred around the River Niger axis.
“The Commissioner of Police Kwara State, CP Paul Odama psc+, immediately after receiving the information dispatched a team of policemen to join the policemen and other locals already on their way to locate the exact spot the boat accident happened to join in the rescue efforts.
“The boat was said to have conveyed about 250 people from a village called Gboti via Patigi after a wedding ceremony to Ebu Village and Dzakan Village, all within Patigi’s local government area.
On leaving the shore, one part of the boat by the engine side collapsed where water penetrated the boat, which ultimately led to the boat capsizing. All efforts to draw the attention of the villagers hosting the wedding ceremony for assistance by the persons in the boat proved abortive, leading to the deaths of about 106 people.
Transition Implementation Committee (TIC) Chairman of Patigi Local Government area, Alhaji Ibrahim Liman who said that the accident might have been caused by Water that leaked into the boat stated that the volume of water that entered into the boat affected its movement which made it to capsize.
Liman said that all the people who survived the accident swam to the bank of the river by themselves adding that “All the people that survived the accident knew how to swim and they swam to the river bank by themselves.
Meanwhile, Hydroelectric Power Producing Areas Development Commission (HYPPADEC) Managing Director, Mallam Abubakar Yelwa blamed the high rate of death in the accident for the non-use of life jackets by the passengers in the boat.
Yelwa while speaking at a programme organised by the Commission in Ilorin on Wednesday said that the commission spent billions of naira to purchase life jackets for the people leaving in the area covered by HYPPADEC.
“High death rate in the early Monday morning boat mishap in the Patigi local government area of Kwara state has been blamed on the negative attitude of people of the area in the use of life jackets whenever they travel by water.”
The HYPPADEC boss, who lamented that use of life jackets was not encouraging among the people, called on the state House of Assembly to enact a law to make it mandatory for dwellers in riverine communities and boat operators to use life jackets whenever they travel on water.
The HYPPADEC boss said that people can float on water for about seven hours with the use of jackets in case of a mishap, adding that the commission distributed the commodity among the people last year.
He also said that the law should restrict night traveling on water, adding that more lives would have been saved if the mishap had happened during day time.
“If the victims had put on the life jackets, the fatality rate would have been very minimal because a life jacket can keep a victim afloat for at least seven hours and help would have come from villagers within that period.
“I want to call on relevant authorities to legislate a law that will make the use of life jackets compulsory for boat passengers and as well restrain the boat operators from operating at night. If the victims had worn life jackets and the accident occurred in broad daylight, the fatality rate would have been very minimal”, he said.
In another development, the Kwara State House of Assembly has charged the state government to collaborate with National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), towards averting disasters in the state.
This was part of the resolutions of the House after considering a Matter of General Importance on the recent boat mishap along Egboti in Niger State and Kpada, Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara State raised by the lawmaker representing Edu Constituency, Hon. Saba Gideon during today’s plenary.
Hon. Gideon blamed the incident on the failure of Federal Inland Water Ways in safeguarding the nation’s waterways
Other members in their separate submissions condoled the state government and families of those who lost their lives in the unfortunate incident
Reading the resolutions of the House, the Speaker of the Assembly, Rt. Hon. Yakubu Salihu-Danladi tasked the Ministry of Works and Transport to always synergize with National Inland Waterways Authority to fashion out lasting solutions to forestall reoccurrence.