Boat mishap: Operators lament, seek govt intervention
THREE days after the unfortunate boat accident, which claimed seven lives in Ijede, Ikorodu area of Lagos, boat operators in the state have urged government to take urgent action to check the activities of dredgers in the state.
The ill-fated boat, The Guardian learnt, was conveying 17 people from Ijede in Ikorodu, Lagos State to Badore in the Ajah area of Lagos, when it capsized at about 10.10a.m. on Saturday.
According to officials of the state emergency agency, no fewer than seven lives were lost in the incident. The agency said the incident was caused by a pile up of sand along the route, which the boat did not see and ran into.
Lagos State government will not tolerate the operation of substandard vessels on the waterways
Two victims of the boat mishap have been discharged from hospital. Seven victims were admitted into various hospitals within Ijede and its environs but three died while on admission while two have been discharged. A source in Ijede General Hospital said the remaining two were responding to treatment.
Meanwhile, the boat operators have suspended operations pending the time those hospitalised are discharged from the hospital and the casualties are buried accordingly. Chairman of the Tarzan Boats jetty, Mr. Hassan Balogun, said the step was necessary to commiserate with the affected families and seek ways to forestall future recurrence.
He said the tragedy was caused by the activities of sand dredgers, which caused the ill-fated boat to run into the accumulated sand and tumble and fall off three minutes after its take off.
Some of the survivors, according to an eyewitness, who gave his name simply as Azeez, were discharged after the treatment. He, however, urged the state government to address cases of boat mishaps, saying it is becoming one accident too many.
The General Manager (Operations) of Tarzan Boats, Mr. Hakeem Balogun, who confirmed the incident, said it occurred minutes after the monthly state-wide sanitation was concluded, when the first 20-passenger boat moved from their jetty at Ijede, with only17 persons on board.
“After another 10 minutes, the second boat followed. But just a few minutes after, I saw the same boat returning to disembark its passengers and the captain told me that the first boat had an accident. We stopped operation and deployed all our boats for its rescue.
“It was when we got there that we saw that the boat actually hit a heap of sand left there by the mechanized dredgers. This is what we have been experiencing since the dredgers came here; the same route you plied on your way going without any incident could have a heap of sand on your return journey. A similar incident almost happened about four weeks ago; we we lost our engine with the boat badly damaged,” Balogun said.
The Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) has summoned an emergency meeting today (Tuesday) with all commercial boat operators in the state, in the bid to arrest the ugly incidences of boat mishap.