• Four Bodies Recovered, Others Still Missing
• NIWA Declares Boat Captain Wanted
• LASWA Vows To Enforce Safety Measures
No fewer than 16 passengers are feared dead after their boat capsized around Mile 2 area of Lagos State.
Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) said that at about 7.45p.m., on Friday, it received a distress call of an incident on the waterways, which later revealed that a W19 passenger Fibre boat carrying 16 people capsized along the Ojo area of the state.
“The boat going from Mile 2 to Ibeshe in Ojo axis broke the waterways rules of late travelling by setting sail at 7pm. As the boat set out, the tide of the water drifted the boat to a stationary barge, which caused the boat to overturn.
It was said that all passengers on board, which included children, did put on their life jackets.
The Search and Rescue team of the LASWA, National Inland Waterways (NIWA) Nigerian Marine Police and the State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA) were immediately mobilised to the scene but unfortunately, could only find the boat after several hours, while efforts were still ongoing to locate the victims.
LASWA said the boat is currently in the custody of Marine Police, while the boat captain was also unaccounted for as at press time, though four bodies have been recovered.
Meanwhile, NIWA, Lagos area office, has begun search for the captain of boat and had declared him wanted. But, a source the captain might have drowned.
According to a source, the boat carried 21 passengers and not 16 as reported. He said the driver took off from the wooden jetty at Mazamaza.
A woman who had three children on board was seen crying profusely and was being consoled by friends and family around Maza Maza Bus Stop.
Meanwhile, the government has vowed to enforce safety measures and go after substandard boat operators.
The General Manager, LASWA, Damilola Emmanuel, said while consoling the victims’ families. He said his agency had done so much to reduce cases of boat mishaps to the barest minimum.
Part of the safety measures was the Search and Rescue Unit, which was established to fully deal with incident operations in the different locations to improve response time during emergencies.
Emmanuel further disclosed that with the huge potential of water transportation in the state, the government was doing all it could to ensure that the sector was not only viable, but also safe as well as ready to come down hard on any operator, who endangers the lives of people while operating in the sector.
He admonished passengers on the waterways to be safety-conscious always.
“The life jacket can save you. Buy your own life if you must. Inspect the life jackets that you are given and make sure it does not have holes or is torn. Avoid night travels. Safety consciousness is a collective responsibility, if you see something unusual on the Waterways, say it,” he said.