Kebbi State Government will review the extant maritime laws, with a view to protecting the lives and properties of marine passengers, accoridng to the State Governor, Senator Abubakar Atiku Bagudu.
Bagudu further said that, the move became imperative in the face of recurring cases of boat mishaps, resulting in the loss of lives and properties of innocent passengers .
The Kebbi State Governor was informed that, seventy six dead bodies have so far been recovered, following the boat mishap, at Warrah, on Wednesday.
Similarly, the Chairman of the APC Governors’ Forum, said that, no fewer than twenty two victims had also been rescued alive as at today.
Bagudu disclosed this at the Palace of Emir of Yauri, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi and at the Palace of District Head of Warrah, Sarkin Maginga, Alhaji Abdulmalik Nuhu, in Warrah, Ngaski Local Government,on Friday, when he paid condolence visit to the area, in the aftermath to the unfortunate boat mishap that involved a canoe, believed to have been overloaded with over one hundred and sixty passengers .
He said that, fifty nine of the recovered dead victims were from Warrah town, even as the Governor expressed hope that, more of the vicitms would be rescued alive.
The Governor noted that, Warrah was in the global news, for the past three days, but, for the unpalatable reasons, sequel to the incident .
He said that, the incident was unfortunate and saddening , adding, ” yet, It was ordained by the Almighty Allah.
” The incident drew myriad of sympathies and condolences from across the globe, including President Muhammadu Buhari, Senate President, NASS members, Governors , Traditional, religious and political leaders, among others .”
Bagudu also acknowledged and appreciated the flurry of search and rescue efforts by divers , private boat owners, governmental and non governmental agencies .
While decrying the recuurrence of such incidents , the Kebbi State Governor condoles with the families of the victims, as well as prayed for the repose of the souls of the departed victims , while he also prayed for the quick recovery of the injured victims.
Bagudu called on people, especially boat users and passengers to learn from previous experiences and desist from acts capable of endangering their lives.
‘ In whatever we do, we must stick to rules, boat users should stick to specifications on the exact number of passengers to be carried by each boat.
‘ There should always be passengers manifest, even before boarding. The basic marine transport protocols should be observed.
‘ This is something we can do at least to guard against future occurrences, ‘ he averred.
He urged people to accept the incident in good faith as it was from God and advised them not to be deterred from working hard to earn their legitimate livelihoods.
The governor told people in the area that , the Presidential Artisanal Gold Mining initiative conceived by President Buhari, in furtherance of his intention to create more wealth and more job opportunities for people of which Ngaski is among, has taken off successfully.
The Emir of Yauri, Dr. Muhammad Zayyanu Abdullahi, while thanking the governor for the condolence visit, recalled that in 2003, a similar boat accident occurred in the area which claimed the lives of fifty passengers.
What is needed, now according to the Emir as a safeguard against future occurrence, was dredging of the river, to do away with tree logs in the river.
He hoped that,the Hydro-Power Producing Areas Develpment Commission , HYPPADEC would play significant role in that direction, as well as ensure the provision of ‘ Safety Jackets or Life Jackets to all passengers.
Earlier, the Governor had visited Bakin Kwata water front in Warrah, where the rescue operation was launched and commiserated with the families of the victims and thanked all those who took part in the rescue operations especially, National Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Marine Police, National Inland Water Authority, NIWA, HYPPADEC and Fishermen among others.
Special prayers were offered for the repose of the souls of those who lost their lives in the boat mishap.
The Chairman of Ngaski local Government, Hon. Abdullahi Buhari and Sarkin Ruwa , Umar Bawa Maginga, all thanked the governor for the visit.
The Chairman of Ngaski local Government, Hon. Abdullahi Buhari narrated the rescue efforts were launched by the relevant governmental and non governmental organizations.
He said the capsized boat was overloaded with passengers and goods.
He also told the governor that, 19 dead bodies were also recovered this Friday and that so far, 76 dead bodies were recovered, out of which 59 bodies were identified to be from Warrah and 22 passengers were rescued alive .
On his part, the Sarkin Ruwa, Umar Bawa told the governor that, the big boat came from Niger State, while the majority of the passengers were indigines of Kebbi, from Warrah.
After the governor sought to find out if the names of the passengers were taken before the ill fated journey began, he replied there wasn’t any list of the passengers taken.
The governor had also commiserated with a group of gold miners who arrived the scene before he left.
At the Palace of the District Head of Warrah, Sarkin Maginga, Alhaji Abdulmalik Nuhu in Warrah, the governor condoled with the people and families of the deceased on behalf of government and people of Kebbi State.
Some of the survivors narrated their ordeals in the ill-fated boat.
Malama Maryam Sani narrated how she was able to rescue some kids after spending hours in the river.
‘ I have never seen such a calamity in my life. I was watching how passengers including the children of my elder brother and sister perished in the water.
” Already, I was holding some children, whom I asked to cling on me, holding an empty jerry can’ She cried”.
Alka Ladan was another male survivor and according to him, half way through the journey, he felt asleep, but just heard a loud noise of the breaking boat.
” I was able to save two children who held on to me, but could not help others for the fear of us all getting drowned in the water,” he said.
The State House of Assembly Member, representing the area, Adamu Birnin Yauri, while commending the governor for the visit, also appealed for the enforcement of marine transport laws,in order to guard against future occurrences.
The Special Adviser, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Alhaji Sani Dododo, also condoled with the families and people of Ngaski over the boat accident.
He explained that, Kebbi SEMA has over the years been holding series of meetings with stakeholders and came out with laws/code of conduct for boat operators, as well as sensitisation following recurring boat mishaps in the area which claimed so many lives and properties.
Dododo, then announced the donation of eleven million naira from Governor Abubakar Atiku Bagudu on behalf of Kebbi State Government to the families of the deceased, those injured and those who partook in the search and rescue operation.
The governor was accompanied on the trip by Hon. Commissioner for Land and Housing, Mahmud Mahammad Warrah, Commissioner for Animal Health and Fisheries, Hon. Aminu Garba Dandiga, Special Adviser, State Emergency Management Agency, SEMA, Alhaji Sani Dododo
Others were , the State House of Assembly Member, representing the area, Hon. Adamu Birnin Yauri, Chairman of Ngaski local Government, Hon. Abdullahi Buhari, traditional and political leaders among others.