CITIZENS COMPASS – BARELY 48 hours after over 100 wedding guests got drowned in Patigi local government area of Kwara state, the State Police Command on Wednesday, June 24, 2023, said death toll from the mishap has hit 106 while 144 people have so far been rescued.
Spokesperson of the Command, SP Ajayi Okasanmi who disclosed this in a statement said that the boat capsized between Ebu and Dzakan village in Patigi local government area.
He said about 250 passengers were on board of it when it capsized.
The spokesperson said 106 passengers lost their lives to the mishap.
He gave the breakdown of the casualties as follow; “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 on 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 living 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 a related 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.