More than 150 feared drowned in Nigeria boat disaster

Thursday May 27 2021
River Niger

A dredger flushes water from the River Niger near Lokoja, Kogi State, Nigeria in 2019. PHTO | AFP


More than 150 people were missing and feared drowned in northwest Nigeria on Wednesday after an overloaded boat ferrying passengers to a market sank in the Niger River, local officials said.

The boat was travelling between central Niger state and Wara in northwest Kebbi state when it went down, National Inland Waterways Authority local manager Yusuf Birma told reporters.

The Chairman of Warrah Local Government Council, Mr Abdullahi Haruna, and Mr Ahmed Inga, Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA) confirmed the accident happened at 11am.

Mr Haruna said the boat took off from Loko in Niger State with more than 180 passengers and that only 22 people, who wore life-saving jackets, and a baby had been rescue. He said rescue and search efforts were ongoing. 
Mr Ahmed Inga, Director-General of the Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), who also confirmed the accident, said the passengers were mainly women and children. 
He attributed the cause of the accident to overloading. 
The National Inland Waterways Authority has declared 156 persons missing in the boat mishap. 
“The boat was also carrying 30 Bajaj motorcycles. The victims were going to a market in Malele in Borgu local government area of Niger state from Kebbi. 
Birma added that most of the boats are old and weak.  
Meanwhile, President Muhammadu Buhari has described the boat mishap as devastating and extended his condolences to the families of those affected by this tragedy.