By: ABBA BASHIR; Sani Sulaiman
Taraba state government has directed that the barricades mounted by the fishermen on the waterways in River Benue at the Karim Lamido LGA of the State be removed within seven days.
The barricades were said to have been the course of the incident.
The state Deputy Governor, Alhaji Aminu Alkali announced this when he paid a condolence visit to Binneri community where the boat capsized last Saturday.
Alkali revealed that the state government has banned night journeys on waterways, adding that the government will henceforth not tolerate the overloading of boats, canoes, or movement without passengers’ manifests and life jackets.
He also informed that the government will investigate deeply to unravel the root cause of the boat mishap and punish culprits accordingly.
Alhaji Aminu Alkali explained that their visit was to ensure no more overloading, or night traveling, and impose the use of passengers’ manifests for easy identification of one’s relations in case of such incident.
He further emphasized that life jackets must be provided for passengers protection, noting that it is not all persons can swim, and described the loss of lives witnessed in the state as regrettable.
The state Commissioner for Special Duties and Social Development, Saviour Noku also during the visit confirmed that twenty dead bodies have been recovered from the wooden boat mishap in the local government area.
In an interview, the Taraba State Acting Chairman of Water Transportation, Alhaji Jidda Suleiman Mayo-narewo said about sixty-four persons were drowned, and pointed out that they have recovered thirteen dead bodies so far.
“All the thirteen dead bodies we have recovered I touched them with my hands but to my surprise, I saw some people posted some dead bodies on social media which I don’t know from where they got them. I don’t know about any recovery of dead bodies besides those thirteen (13). Says Jidda.
He said already they have bought exercise books to be used as manifests and appealed to both the state and federal governments to assist them with life jackets even if it is on a loan basis.
Alhaji Jidda Suleiman also urged the National Assembly members from the state to come to their aid and construct the Mayo-narewo road to ease their business activities and expressed optimism that Governor Agbu Kefas will apply his wealth of experience in improving their services as he worked in the Niger Delta.
However, the rider of the boat, who did not mention his name said while riding they got stuck on the water two hours after take-off due to some barricades made by fishermen, and tried all he could to maneuver but did not succeed which led to the ugly incident.
He revealed that about fifty (50) to sixty (60) passengers in the boat drowned while some who hung on to others who knew how to swim succeeded in getting to the river bank.
When contacted on telephone, the Head of Operation of the National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), Yola operation office, Ladan Ayuba said they had visited the area and carried out an assessment for emergency assistance to the families of the victims.