At least 901 men, women and children died in boat accidents nationwide between January 2020 and September 2023, The PUNCH understands.
The period under review saw over 61 boat mishaps, according to figures compiled by one of our correspondents.
One such incident occurred in October 2022 in Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State when a boat reportedly carrying about 85 passengers capsized; 76 persons drowned.
Reports said the victims were primarily women and children fleeing to safety after floods overran their community.
In May 2021, only 20 people were rescued and more than 150 went missing when a boat transporting passengers to the market broke apart between Kebbi and Niger states.
15 children drowned and 25 others were missing when a boat capsized in a river in Sokoto state, northwest Nigeria, in May 2023.
Eight persons were said to have died in the accident that occurred in Gusau, Zamfara, in May 2023.
In June 2023, more than 106 people were killed in the Kwara boat accident. Also, on June 26, three students from Calabar state died in a boat accident.
12 people were killed in a boat accident at a river, Kogi Kungra Kamfani, in Arikiya, Lafia LGA of Nasarawa on August 24, 2023.
Also, 15 were confirmed died in the Adamawa boat on September 9 and another 11 died two days later.
30 persons, primarily women and children, have been confirmed dead; over 30 people were rescued in a boat accident on September 10, 2023, in the Mokwa local government area of Niger state.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Marine Transport, Senator Wasiu Eshinlokun-Sanni, has commiserated with the governments and people of Adamawa and Niger States following the deaths occasioned by the recent boat accidents in their two respective states.
In a statement on Tuesday, the Senator queried the sea-worthiness of some of the vessels plying the nation’s waters and blamed them for engaging in overloading and lack of safety vests as the significant causes of boat accidents.
He said, “The death of 15 persons in Adamawa and 24 in Niger on our local waters is sad and regrettable. The development is a wake-up call to all to enforce extant safety regulations along our inland waterways across the nation to mitigate against the recurrence of these maritime fatalities.
“This needless loss of lives has to stop. We must do everything to safeguard lives as the lives of our people are sacred.”
Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu on Tuesday directed various government agencies, including law enforcement, maritime safety and transportation safety authorities, to collaborate closely in identifying the root causes of these unfortunate and preventable disasters.
This was as he extended his heartfelt condolences to the families of the victims who lost their lives in the recent boat mishaps in Mokwa Local Government Area of Niger State and Gurin village, in Fufore LGA of Adamawa State, which tragically claimed many lives, including several children.
Tinubu’s condolence message is contained in a statement signed by his Special Adviser on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, titled President Tinubu mourns victims of boat accidents in Niger, Adamawa States.’
“President Tinubu demands a thorough and comprehensive investigation into the recurring tragedy of fatal boat incidents across the nation,” the statement read in part.
While expressing solidarity with the governments and people of Niger and Adamawa States as they swiftly mobilized emergency response teams and volunteers to provide immediate assistance to those affected by the incidents, the President wished a most speedy recovery to the injured.
Furthermore, he stressed his commitment to holding government agencies accountable for any regulatory or safety lapses and instructed a comprehensive review of safety measures and strict enforcement of existing laws on boating activities in the country.
The President assured the affected families and communities of the government’s continued support and commitment to preventing such tragic incidents from occurring in the future.