Ekiti mourns as four World Bank contractors drown
It was a cruel, unexpected end for the four World Bank contractors who drowned in Egbe River, Gbonyin Local Council of Ekiti State on Tuesday night.
The victims were part of a seven-man team carrying out a World Bank assessment mission on the turnaround maintenance of the dam on the Egbe River, jointly owned by the World Bank and Ekiti State government, which sources said is ready for commencement.
Those that died in the boat mishap are Bamidele Waheed Alayande, Tirimisiyu Alaran, David Malu and one Albert, while survivors receiving treatment in the hospital at present, are Charles Ehinlaye, Bukky Ajet and Yahaya Mohammed.
According to a source, the contractors arrived Egbe community on Tuesday afternoon from the Development Dam and Irrigation Scheme, Kaduna State and proceeded to the dam that supplied water to four local councils in the state, including Ado Ekiti, the state capital.
A security man at the gate, who pleaded for anonymity, said one of the boats used by the team for the operation capsized. Though, he could not give details of what happened, he noted that said not all the contractors wore life jackets.
He said: “They were seven, including a young boy we suspect must be the son of one of the contractors that went on the assessment.
Suddenly, we saw one of them panting and crying that their boat capsized. They asked us to help them look for local fishermen that could assist in rescuing those who drowned.
“We all rushed to the community in search of local divers. The chairman of the local council, Mrs. Folasade Akinrinmola, was also contacted and she immediately called fishermen in the community, who mobilized to the scene for the rescue mission throughout the night.
“Sadly, with all the effort, they could only come out with their dead bodies, which they took to the mortuary of a general hospital at Ode-Ekiti.”
The council chairman, Mrs. Akinrinmola said the traditional ruler of the community notified her of the incident. “We immediately mobilised a rescue team and an ambulance to the scene. Those wearing life jackets were rescued and were the ones who told us that others were in the water. Their bodies were later retrieved by the local fishermen.”
She described the incident as “unfortunate” and said their bodies have been deposited at the mortuary in Ode-Ekiti, headquarters of the council.
On their mission to the river, the council boss said: “We believe they were there based on some of the proposals we had written on the dam and how it could be put to use and we believe that the World Bank had started work on the river based on the proposals.”
Public relations officer of the Ekiti State Police Command, Mr. Alberto Adeyemi, confirmed the incident, saying “they must have come from the Federal Ministry because dams are owned by the Federal Government. Their boat capsized, four of them died while three survived.”
None of the survivors was around on Wednesday when The Guardian visited, but the community was in a mournful mood.
A source at Ode-Ekiti hospital mortuary said the remains of the victims had been taken away by Federal Government officials.
Meanwhile, the state government yesterday said it would investigate the death of the four World Bank consultants. The government in a statement, where it commiserated with the families of the deceased, described the death as “unfortunate” and promised to investigate the immediate and remote causes of the incident.
A statement signed by the Commissioner for Public Utilities, Mr. Ayodeji Adesua regretted that the “four experts drowned during an accident that occurred at Egbe Dam, in the course of discharging their duties.
Also, members of the Ekiti State House of Assembly have commiserated with the Federal Government and the World Bank over the death of the contractors.
Speaker of the House, Pastor Kola Oluwawole, responding to the observation made by the House Committee Chairman on Information, Chief Olugboyega Aribisogan, calling the House’s attention to the tragedy, described the development as saddening and unfortunate.
“It is a sad development. We have to express our condolences to the Federal Government and the World Bank. It is unfortunate that they died in active service and on our soil. I implore the House to let us stand and observe a minute’s silence in hounour of the departed officials,” Oluwawole requested.