No fewer than 156 persons are missing in the boat mishap, which occurred in Kebbi State on Wednesday, the National Inland Waterways Authority (NIWA) has said.
NIWA Area Manager in Yauri Kebbi State, Yusuf Birma, said rescue operation was still ongoing but four people have been confirmed dead while 20 have been rescued alive.
Birma that the accident was caused by overloading.
He said, “The boat was carrying 180 passengers with 30 Bajaj motorcycles. The victims were going to a market in Malele in Borgu local government area of Niger state from Kebbi and the incident happened just one hour into their trip.
“We are still rescuing the victims; the mishap occurred as a result of overloading. The boat capacity is not up 180 passengers it carried, as we speak, only 20 people have been rescued alive, four dead confirmed while the remaining 156 people are still missing and they are believed to be underwater.”
He added that most of the boats are old and weak.
“The boat involved is a wooden boat which is old and very weak but these people will not listen when we sensitise them to reduce the number of passengers they are carrying with the boat,” he said.
Cases of boat mishaps in Niger State have been on the rise in recent years.
Between 2019 and 2020, at least 50 people lost their lives on the Malale River following incidents of boat mishaps.
In April 2021, a boat carrying over 70 passengers, mostly farmers and traders capsized on a river at Zumba in Munya local government area of the state, leaving scores dead.
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the news of the capsizing of the boat in Ngaski local government area of Kebbi State as devastating and offered his heartfelt condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.
The President in a statement issued by his spokesman, Garba Shehu, extended his gratitude to those involved in the rescue efforts and wished the injured from the accident quick recovery.