•LASG to go tough on ferry operators, insists on night travel restrictions
ragedy struck in Ebute Ero axis of Lagos as a commercial passenger boat capsized leaving five passengers dead, 16 injured and others missing.
Although the exact number of the missing passengers couldn’t be ascertained since some of the injured victims were still unconscious in order to speak on the number of passengers on board as at the time of this report.
Sunday Telegraph leant 21 passengers were on board the 20 – passenger capacity boat.
The ill-fated boat owned by LALEK MARINE was suspected to have left Ebute Ero Jetty around 8pm after approved sailing time of 6pm. It didn’t arrive at its destination – Ikorodu Terminal. The boat was said to have capsized at Owode Ibeshe, not too far away from Ikorodu, when it ran into an unknown object on the Waterways causing the boat to capsize.
Confirming the tragic incident, the Director-General of the Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Dr Femi Oke-Osanyintolu, said that the ill-fated boat was heading to Ikorodu when it capsized around 8pm, leaving some passengers dead and some injured with yet to be ascertained number of passengers missing. He said that the boat left Ebute Ero jetty in violation of night travel on water.
Osayintolu said: “On arrival at the incident scene, information gathered was that twenty one (21)people on a local boat expedition were inside a boat which capsized around 8pm having departed Ebute-Ero enroute Ikorodu in violation of night time restrictions on water travel.”
He said that though search and rescue had commenced on the waterways but added that rescue efforts were being carried out under challenges of darkness couple with the time the accident happened.
“Search and rescue operations commenced, albeit under extremely challenging conditions. Sixteen were rescued, five bodies recovered and Captain of the boat still missing. Further updates will follow,” he added.
On his part, the General Manager of the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Oluwadamilola Emmanuel said that 20 passengers were presumed on board.
He said: “LASWA Search Party, Local Boat Operators, Marine Police and LASEMA convened search and so far Eleven (11) passengers were rescued with one person in critical condition with Four (4) fatalities. Four are still missing. “
Hence, the Lagos State Waterways which claimed five lives, Lagos State Inland Waterways Authority, (LASWA) has again issued out warning to all Ferry Operators and passengers against night journey, warning that the state government’s ‘No Night travelling’ on the waterways directive is still in place.
LASWA General Manager warned that henceforth, any operator, who violated any of the safety guidelines especially the no night travelling rule, would be arrested by the Marine Police while their boat would be impounded.
He urged passengers too to desist from embarking on night journeys on water ways, as any passenger found on board of such boats at night will also be prosecuted in accordance with the relevant laws of the State.
Meanwhile, Lagos State Commissioner for Transportation Dr Frederic Oladeinde, who also paid an unscheduled condolence visit to the scene of the accident at Ikorodu Saturday morning, explained that the accident was avoidable if the operators had followed the state government directive of no night journey and 60% loading capacity.
The Commissioner stated further that the 20 passengers ill- fated boat apart from taking off illegally around 8pm in the night at Ebute Ero Jetty also overloaded as 21 passengers were on board when the accident occurred.