A boat travelling from Nigeria’s Niger State to Kebbi State has recently capsized in the Niger River. While reports of how many people were on board vary from 160 to 200, it is believed that at least 140 people are still missing with 22 survivors and five reported deaths. A rescue mission is reportedly underway according to the National Emergency Management Agency (Nema) in Kebbi State. This recent accident follows a similar one which occurred in Niger State just two weeks ago and resulted in 28 deaths.
According to TimesLIVE, locals within the area are expecting bodies to be washed up on the shore in the coming days. One of the locals, Qasimu Umar Wara, said the following: “The boat was overloaded. My brother is among those missing. This is the worst boat accident that has happened in this water.” Wara went on to add that: “They usually go there in the evenings and return to Wara in the morning,” he said. “Most of them are petty traders, food vendors and the local miners.”
Boats capsizing in this part of Nigeria are unfortunately common with overcrowding, a lack of life jackets and operating at night being among the causes of these often fatal accidents, the BBC reports. National Inland Waterways Authority local manager, Yusuf Birma, offered comment on the accident saying the following: “The boat involved was a wooden boat which was old and very weak but these people (skippers) would not listen when we sensitised them to reduce the number of passengers they carry in their boats.”
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has since described the accident as “devastating” and extended his condolences to the families of those who have been affected.