It is with deep shock and sadness that the management of National Inland Waterways Authority NIWA wishes to commiserate with the good people and government of Anambra State over the recent boat mishaps which consumed 10 lives at Umnnakwo, Ogbaru Local Government Area of Anambra State.
The boat mishap though described as a mechanical and human error could have been averted if the basic safety guidelines of wearing life jackets and avoiding overloading amongst other safety rules were adhered to.
According to the report from our Onitsha Area Office, at about 12:30pm of the 7th day of October 2022, it was revealed that the wooden engine boat, after it has loaded 48 passengers, left for its destination; but at a point, the engine developed a mechanical fault and as such could not start again. All efforts by the captain of the boat to restart the engine proved abortive and at that point, the wave/current of the river started to pull the boat backwards towards the bridge linking Umunnakwo/Ossomala. Some of the passengers who could swim jumped into the river for safety, while others tried to push the boat away from the bridge. Those that could not swim were trapped in the boat and out of fear, they all moved to one side of the boat and as soon as the boat collided with the bridge, it capsized leaving ten (10) persons dead (all women and children). Out of the forty-eight (48) passengers, thirty-eight (38) were rescued alive (5 were children and 33 adults).
Despite the several efforts of the Managing Director of NIWA Chief Dr. George Moghalu in distributing free life jackets to boat operators association in all our 23 Area offices Nationwide and sensitization campaign and training for boat operators and water users on the importance of adhering to the safety guidelines on the waterways; to our dismay, it was revealed that only one of the passengers on board wore life jacket and was saved while others were not on life jacket. This came to us at NIWA as a surprise because the Onitsha Area Office had countlessly carried out sensitization programs on the importance of the use of life jacket amongst other safety guidelines in the State.
Consequently, due to the rising level of the flood, the Area Office has stationed personnel on daily patrol of the waterways for quick response to emergencies as they might arise.
GM Corporate Affairs
11th October, 2022.