The Adamawa State Government has identified factors that led to three boat accidents recorded in the state within a week.
Water accidents have claimed dozens of lives in the last eight days, sparking criticism about the management of water transport in the northeastern state.
The most recent wave of accidents started on Monday, September 4, where a canoe travelling between Mayo-Ine and Mayobelwa in Mayobelwa Local Government Area capsized, killing two of its passengers.
Four days later, another accident involving another canoe conveying 23 traders and farmers from Rugange village to Yola town in Yola South area occurred on Njuwa Lake at Dandu village causing the death of 15 people.
On Monday, just as rescue workers struggled to recover corpses of missing persons from Njuwa Lake, another boat conveying dozens of passengers was overturned by strong wind in Gurin, Fufore LGA. Local divers rescued 11 persons while many more remained missing.
The Executive Secretary, Adamawa State Emergency Management Agency, Muhammad Amin Sulaiman, on Tuesday identified overloading, disregard for bad whether and non usage of life jackets as factors responsible for the accidents, saying government was working to enforce safety measures to prevent future occurrence.
The state governor, Ahmadu Umaru Fintiri who paid condolence visit to Gurin on Tuesday said he had directed all relevant agencies to enforce safety standards which include ban on overloading and use of life jackets on the waters.
Fintiri therefore called on traditional rulers and local government councils to support his administration in preventing further loss of lives due to negligence and disregard for safety rules.
He said, “We are here to commiserate with you over the drowning of our people here. I want to call attention to the dangers of using canoe without life jackets or engine to drive it especially during storm or heavy down pour. We should know life is better han money.
“I will direct all relevant agencies to regulate water transport. We will provide life jackets at every point where people are transported. Traditional rulers should ensure that a canoe with capacity to accommodate 10 persons is restricted to only 10 persons. What we saw in Rugange and Gurin is enough to serve as lesson to us. We will not wait to come for condolence after loss of life. We will prevent it without fear or favour.”
A retired fisherman and boat driver, Danlami Adahnu, told our reporter that greed on the part of transporters was responsible for the frequent rate of mishaps, saying during storms, a wise canoe man would reduce the number of passengers below the capacity of his canoe to avoid capsizing.
“The best way to prevent accident is to avoid overloading. Because during the rainy season, water waves are strong and very fast, so a wise canoe man reduces the number of passengers even below the capacity of his canoe to avoid capsizing,” Adahnu said.