The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA), with headquarters in Lokoja, Kogi State, on Friday confirmed that eleven people lost their lives in the both mishap along River Buruku in Benue State.
NIWA in a press release issued on Friday, which was signed by Mr. Tayo Fadile, the General Manager, Corporate Affairs, said twelve people were rescued, while the search for seven others is ongoing.
He stated that these was contrary to reports that eighteen people lost their lives in the both accident.
“The attention of National Inland Waterways Authority has been drown to media reports claiming that eighteen (18) people lost their lives along River Buruku in Benue State.
He attributed the cause of the accident to overloading.
“However, information made available to us by NIWA’s Area Manager in Benue State, Engr. Danjuma Mohammed Kabiru, who visited the site of the boat accident confirmed that eleven (11) people died while twelve (12) were rescued and eighteen (18) motorcycles that were on the boat recovered.
“The search for the seven (7) remaining bodies is ongoing.
It should be noted that as against the standard practice, a vehicular boat was used to ferry the 30 passengers on board which was obviously overloaded.
“The Area Manager also confirmed that against NIWA safety guideline which stipulated that boats and river craft should not travel after 6pm on our waterways, this ill-fated boat started its journey by 9pm, and also contrary to NIWA safety guidelines none of the 30 passengers were wearing life jackets.
“While we commiserate with the government and people of Benue State on this unfortunate incident, we are also using this opportunity to urge all intending passengers on our waterways to always adhere to the safety guidelines as provided by NIWA, especially the need to wear life jacket and to discourage traveling on our waterways after 6pm.
“We are particularly worried that a ferry boat designed to carry only vehicles was illegally turned to a passenger vessel, causing the loss of eighteen (18) precious lives,” he stated.