The National Inland Waterways Authority, NIWA, on Friday confirmed that 11 died in the boat mishap that occurred on River Bukuru in Benue State and not 18 as earlier reported by a section of the media.
The organisation which made the confirmation in a statement in Lokoja said that 12 of the passengers in the ill fated boat were also rescued by divers.
However, the statement, signed by the NIWA’s General Manager in charge of corporate affairs, Tayo Fadile, said that seven of the passengers were still missing.
“The search for the seven remaining bodies is ongoing,” Mr Fadile said in the statement.
According to the statement, 18 of the motorcycles on board have also been recovered.
It said that it’s Area Manager in charge of Benue State, Mr Danjuma Mohammed had visited the scene of the accident for an on the spot assessment and report.
While explaining possible cause of the accident, NIWA explained that the boat was overloaded as it was used to ferry 30 passengers against standard practice.
“The Area Manager also confirmed that against NIWA safety guideline which stipulated that boats and river craft should not travel after 6.00pm on our waterways, this ill-fated boat started its journey by 9:00pm, and also contrary to NIWA safety guidelines none of the 30 passengers were wearing life jackets.
We are particularly worried that a ferry boat designed to carry only vehicles was illegally turned to a passenger vessel, causing the loss of 11 precious lives,” the statement said.
The authority then commiserated with the government and people of Benue State on the accident, charging all intending passengers on waterways to always adhere to safety guidelines.
“They should adhere strictly to NIWA Safety rules, especially the need to wear life jacket and to discourage traveling on our waterways after 6:00pm,” Mr Fadile stated.