President,Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria ( ATBOWATON), Dr Gani Tarzan Balogun, has described the boat mishap in the Patigi Channel of River Niger, Kwara state in which a hundred passengers lost their lives as horrifying and sad.
A wooden boat conveying a wedding team, friends and families, about 103 persons, went down during a night sail, all drowned, and few bodies recovered so far.
Dr Gani Tarzan Balogun, in a condolence message to the state government,stated that the incident has once again cast a dark shadow over commercial boat services in the country which has been accidents free in long time due to serious monitoring and compliance with ecosystem by National Inland waterways Authority( Niwa).
“We at ATBOWATON wish to condole the families of the victims and the government of Kwara state. Even though the boat does not belong to our registered body or any operator known to us, boating is a confraternity, and our heart goes to late Captain and the owner too.”
Going forward, the ATBOWATON leader informed that he would mobilize the members of the association in New Bussa, Niger state, and other sister bodies to physically visit Kwara state to evaluate the development and thereafter,visit the governor of Kwara state to share ideas on how to mitigate such incidents in the nearest future. His words:”We shall proffer solutions,insist on obedience to extant regulations, and advise that there should be efforts to clear logs and debris out of the water ways.
“ATBOWATON frowns at night sailing.It is not only dangerous and against the law, passengers not also wearing life jackets or poorly produced ones,endangers the lives of both passengers and the captains.So, we shall see how serious a sensitization campaign can be deployed to arrest future occurrences . Dr Balogun emphasised.