…As state, local authorities scramble for regulations
It has been confirmed that 11 persons including five children not 20 died at sea last early in the week in Rivers State.
The number notwithstanding, the circumstances of the mishap seem to cause angst in the state as state and local authorities vow to enforce safety regulations especially load limits, engine size, number of engines, and ban on nigh sailing.
Added to the pains may be wrong reporting which got wrong the location and number of victims. The wrong reporting was said to have made local authorities complacent thinking it did not take place in their areas of jurisdiction.
A source that investigated the incident from takeoff to landing told BusinessDay the actual location of the incident is the Bonny River, precisely the area between Bonny Anchorage (near Shell Terminal) and NLNG jetty.
The source also said Bonny River is in Bonny LGA and not connected to Andoni LGA in any way. “Also Ngo, where the victims were traveling from, is in Andoni LGA and several nautical miles away from the Bonny River.
“Time of incident was 1930hrs (7.30pm) on Monday, January 8, 2024.”
On number of victims, the source said: “There were 31 passengers in the boat, five dropped at Coal Beach and one dropped at Sandfield area, all in Bonny, Bonny LGA.
“All 14 survivors were rescued a few hours after the incident by a combined team of local fishermen, a good Samaritan speedboat driver and personnel of the Nigerian Navy. Among the casualties were five kids of one man and six adults.”
The travelers were sailing from Ngo in Andoni LGA to Amariari Fishing Settlement in Finima Community in Bonny LGA. The Andoni and Bonny LGA Chairmen were alerted that same night of the incident but there was paucity of information for them to work with.
It was gathered that the survivors were still incoherent after rescue.
It was gathered that the spot is the place where two rivers meet, something like a confluence, deepened more by dredging.
NLNG boats usually slow down there for safety reasons but local boats and rafters decide to fly through.
Now, Andoni LGA says they will sponsor a bill in the Rivers State House of Assembly to promote safe sailing.
The Rivers State governor, Sim Fubara, has condoled the survivors, and promised to work for safe sailing.