The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) says that it has counted 17 dead bodies which represents 16 passengers and a boat rider involved in an ill-fated boat sailing from Mile 2 to Ibeshe, last Saturday.
NEMA’s Zonal Coordinator, South-West, Mr. Ibrahim Farinloye, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos, yesterday.
Farinloye said that a total of 17 bodies had been recovered so far from the recovery operations of the missing victims.
“Late yesterday night, two more bodies were recovered in addition to the two earlier recovered in the morning. With this, it has become a total of 17 bodies recovered,” he said.
Farinloye said in an interview also confirmed that search and rescue operations had ended.
The coordinator said that illegal boat operators plying the waterways beyond the stipulated official hours led to these avoidable deaths, even as he described the act as a gross violation of the regulations of the waterways guidelines for operators.
“It was revealed that the regulatory bodies have tried to stamp out illegal operations of small boat operators who hardly use life jackets after official hours. But they do not heed to regulations put in place to stop them. It was also observed that wooden boats are not permitted to be used as passenger boat. It is only at this odd hour that illegal operators always put the lives of unsuspecting passengers at risk,’’ Farinloye said.
He said that efforts were on to address the gaps with all stakeholders such as the Nigerian Navy’s Special Boat Service, the Association of Boat/Ferry Operators of Nigeria and the Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA), among others.
In a statement earlier on Saturday, LASWA had said rescue operators found only the boat when they arrived at the scene, adding that it had been handed over to the Marine Police.
The statement read in part, “At about 7:45pm on July 8, 2022, the Lagos State Waterways Authority and National Inland Waterways Authority received a distress call of an incident on the waterways. 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 the Ojo axis broke the waterways rules of late travelling by setting sail at 7pm. As he set out, the tide of the water drifted the boat to a stationary barge which caused the boat to overturn. It is said that all passengers on board, which include children, were not all putting on their life jackets.”