…As LASEMA ends search, saying 7 died, 14 rescued in Lagos Boat Mishap***
The ability of the Nigerian Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) as a performing body, rather than mere paper tiger may be unfolding as only two persons were rescued, while 21 others remained missing, after a boat conveying members of the Evangelical Church of All Nations (ECAN) capsized on River Benue on Sunday.
The Benue boat mishap occurred, only a few hours, after the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said 14 people were rescued alive and seven died at the end of the rescue operation of a boat mishap on July 5. Obviously, BENUE has no ‘LASEMA’ for emergency rescue operations; and NIWA was neither in the mood for rescue operations, nor any capacity for enforcing its law against commercial water trips, after 6 pm.
The Maritime First was told that the Benue boat left Ijaha community in the Makurdi Local Government Area of Benue and was heading to Markurdi, the state capital when the incident happened.
The police command in Benue, confirmed the development in a statement, signed by the Public Relations Officer of the command, DSP. Catherine Anene.
“On 05/07/2020 at about 14:30hrs information was received that 23 members of ECAN Church, Ijaha in Makurdi Local Government boarded a boat to attend a conference across River Benue and at midstream, the boat sank.
“The marine police search party was deployed to the scene, where two persons were rescued alive while 21 people are still missing.
“Further developments will be communicated to members of the public as soon as possible,” the statement said.
In the meantime, the Director-General, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency (LASEMA), Dr Olufemi Oke-Osanyintolu, said 14 people were rescued alive while seven died at the end of the rescue operation of a boat mishap on July 5.
Oke-Osanyintolu confirmed to newsmen at the Ipakodo Jetty during the conclusion of the search and rescue operation at Ipadoko Ferry Terminal in Ikorodu.
He said the search and rescue operations, alongside Lagos State Waterways Authority (LASWA) dive team, started under extremely challenging nightfall conditions, adding that the operations had been concluded on Sunday.
The LASEMA boss said that the incident happened around 8 p.m. on July 3, having departed Ebute-Ero enroute Ikorodu in violation of night-time restrictions.
He however reminded the public to abide by the safety regulations of the state, including appropriate usage of life jackets and restrictions on timing and plying of the waterways.
It was learnt that 19 passengers and two crew members were aboard the capsized boat, out of which 14 were male and seven female. The report said that four females were recovered on July 3, when the incident happened, two female each were also recovered on July 4 and July 5.