Miraculous escape from voyage of death
Life does not provide for an opportunity for a person to die and thereafter come back once again to life to narrate one’s experience at the point of death. When a man dies, he remains silent forever. No amount of probing will make him talk about his death experience. But someone was recently fortunate to escape death even though she was face-to-face with it. She now happily lives to share her experience.
No one would have known what transpired and how she and her co-voyagers met death in the high seas if she had not escaped to tell the story. That person is Bose Adelaja, a reporter with the Vanguard newspaper.
Hear her story: On Monday, March 16, a 22-seater boat with 20 passengers on board including my humble self (Bose Adelaja), sailed off Bayeku-Ikorodu heading for Victoria Island at about 9.10am. I am not a stranger to this voyage for a long while as the way out of the daily backbreaking traffic congestion on the Ikorodu-Mile 12 axis.
From the takeoff point at the jetty in Ikorodu, it’s a pleasant experience that won’t make you regret journeying by road. Usually, as a passenger steps into the terminal, he or she is welcomed with a handshake after which you obtain a sailing ticket of N600 and wait until a boat is ready to sail.
Before boarding, you are instructed to fill the manifest form and wear a life jacket. Passengers on board are mostly of elite class, living in that part of Lagos, but heading for their various destinations on Victoria Island, Ikoyi or Lekki, a supposed journey of 45 minutes.
On this particular day, I had an assignment to pursue on the island and I was one of the 20 passengers on board. The journey was smooth at the beginning, the elements were friendly and the sea was calm. Some of the passengers began chatting, pinging or making phone calls while the boat with the inscription ‘Peter and Paul’ sailed onboard.
The local captain and the sea guide were not left out, as they were busy with their routine of ensuring a safe trip.
Barely 10 minutes into the journey, a sudden and dreadful sound came from the rear and the wave from the front hit the boat. Without any warning, the journey was halted in the middle of a great sea. Then came apprehension from the passengers as nobody knew what transpired until the captain cried out, holding his head with his hands and shouting in vernacular “Mo gbe! Engine oko ti jabo si’nu Omi” (Am in trouble! The boat engine has dropped into the sea).
I began to ponder what could have happened if the situation went out of hand, what would LASEMA be telling the world despite being informed. He would have posed before television cameras to claim how effective his agency has been in the discharge of its duties.
That was when it dawned on Adelaja and her co-passengers that there was danger. Firstly, the captain attempted diving headlong into the sea in search of the missing engine and this heightened the fear that gripped all the passengers as they began wailing, weeping, shouting or offering prayers in different languages.
The journalist among them in a last ditch effort to proffer solution pulled a call through to the General Manager of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr. Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, to intimate him of the ugly scene. He listened patiently to the complaint and offered only his assurances that all would be well, but help never came from the agency.
At this time, the boat had started spinning round in 360 degrees. However, that call to the LASEMA boss calmed all frayed nerves for a few minutes hoping against hope that a miracle would happen with a prompt response from the agency. In the intervening period, one of the passengers got through to the terminal and a rescue boat was sent to the relief and delight of all on board.
Immediately all passengers were out of harm’s way, they began to reflect on their close shave with death and how lucky they were to be alive. A passenger, who simply gave his name as “Opon Ifa”, condemned the nonchalance attitude of LASEMA to the yearning of the stranded passengers.
Another passenger, Adams Oghene, said he has not been a patron of water transport but for an appointment he was almost late for and the bumper-to-bumper traffic situation on Lagos roads, he decided to give the voyage a try.
“After alighting from the rescue boat sent by the private jetty, I began to ponder what could have happened if the situation went out of hand, what would LASEMA be telling the world despite being informed. He would have posed before television cameras to claim how effective his agency has been in the discharge of its duties.
“Many thoughts crossed through my mind; firstly the tragic incident that befell my family within a year in 2006. That was the darkest year of my life when I lost three dear ones, my late mother, Mrs. Abike Oyedele, and two siblings, Titilayo Amope and Mr. Wale Oyedele, who died few weeks to the conclusion of his doctorate. I was imagining if my life would end same way but I thank God such didn’t happen.”
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