The National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has initiated initial investigations to uncover the underlying cause of the tragic incident that claimed the lives of over 103 individuals in a boat accident at Egbu village in Patigi Local Government Area of Kwara. George Moghalu, the Director-General of NIWA, shared this information during a press briefing in Ilorin on Sunday, following an on-site assessment of the incident.
According to reports from the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN), the victims tragically lost their lives when the boat they were traveling in capsized in the middle of the river while returning from a wedding ceremony.
Moghalu expressed his presence in the community with the aim of determining the cause of this unfortunate accident and implementing measures to prevent similar incidents from recurring. While extending his condolences to the community and the nation as a whole, the Director-General disclosed that the preliminary investigation has indicated that the accident was the result of avoidable human error.
He revealed that based on the initial findings, although investigations are still ongoing, it was discovered that the vessel involved in the accident was operating on the water beyond the approved stipulated time. Moghalu emphasized that there is a standard protocol prohibiting boats from operating on waterways after 6 pm. This restriction is in place due to previous experiences where a significant majority, ranging from 90% to 95%, of accidents occurred during the night or early morning hours. The vessel in question was found to be heavily overloaded, carrying over 250 passengers without valid justification, and was also carrying additional luggage.
To compound matters, none of the passengers were wearing life jackets, despite the rainy night and the accompanying strong winds. Moghalu expressed his deep concern over this negligence, as life jackets are essential safety equipment. As a response, NIWA has donated life jackets to the community and pledged to provide additional life-saving equipment.
During discussions with the community, Moghalu learned of their fundamental requests, which included the provision of a jetty.