Mikhail Bmitoshi, who stated this after paying a condolence visit to the people of the community on behalf of government, pointed out that it had become necessary to regulate boat operators’ activities in the state “because it has been discovered that some of the passengers’ boats are either substandard or too old to be used for commercial transportation.”
As far as I am concerned, the boat was not filled to capacity but let us all believe that it was an act of God”.
He pointed out that since 1999 when the first major mishap occurred, boat riders in the area had continued to appeal to government to help them acquire safety jackets even if on loan so that passengers will wear them before boarding a boat to protect them from accidents but nothing was done.
Another survivor, Danjuma Samuel, who claimed to have been residing in the village for over 20 years, said he had heard about boat mishaps involving people from the village in the past but never knew he would one day be a victim, adding that his survival was miraculous.
Mallam Ahmodu Buhari, who also lost three of his brothers in the boat accident, said the deceased persons did not tell him they were going to the market on that day.
The driver of the ill-fated boat, Mallam Saidu Sarki, who was one of those who survived the accident, told Sunday Vanguard that he had been in the business for about 15 years and had never experienced such a disaster.
Meanwhile, the Sarkin Girgi (Chairman of boat riders) in Shiroro local government area of Niger State, Saleh Altini, who spoke to our correspondent, said that unless government comes to the aid of the villagers by providing them with safety jackets, lives will continue to be lost on the river.
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By Wole Mosadomi, Minna
Passengers in the boat that capsized in Niger State penultimate Saturday waited for over five hours studying the weather before they embarked on the journey of no return, according to eye witnesses.
The Chief of Staff disclosed that the state government will buy protective jackets and give to boat operators at subsidized rates, pointing out that “when that is done, no operator will be allowed to carry passengers without protective jackets”.