By Monsuru Olowoopejo & Esther Onyegbula
No fewer than three persons have been confirmed dead and five missing by Lagos State Government after a passenger boat capsized on the lagoon.
Vanguard gathered that the 20-seater passenger boat, including two boat operators, capsized when it collided with another wooden boat on Wednesday evening.
Immediately after the mishap, eyewitness disclosed that 12 passengers were rescued by the emergency management agencies and Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA officials.
Rescue efforts inside the Lagos Lagoon at Lekki Link Bridge area
Other agencies were Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA; Lagos State Ambulance Services, LASAMBUS, and State Environmental Health Management Unit, SEHMU.
It was gathered that the accident would have been prevented if the boat operator had heeded LASWA’s warning against night operations in the state.
Confirming the mishap, General Manager of the Lagos State Waterways Authority, LASWA, Mr. Damilola Emmanuel, disclosed that the boat en route Ojo from Coconut jetty, a suburb in Lagos, capsized mid-sea.
He hinted that investigation conducted revealed that the boats were a passenger boat, “God Bless” and a wooden water supply service boat.
According to him, unfortunately, three persons were confirmed dead and their bodies have been deposited in the morgue, while 12 persons were rescued alive and five persons are missing.
He stressed that efforts of the rescue operators aided the rescue of 12 passengers, assuring that recovery efforts will continue until those missing have been found.
…why we banned night operations
The LASWA boss, however, expressed concern that boat operators were in the habit of flouting the order by the agency to desist from operating at night due to inherent dangers.
Emmanuel also urged passengers to always ensure that they wear life jackets before embarking on any trip on the waterways and ensure they are worn properly to prevent loss of lives.
He said the state government in conjunction with the Marine Police will conduct a thorough investigation into the incident, adding that the operator of the boat would also be held accountable.
Mr. Adesina Tiamiyu, General Manager, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, LASEMA, said: “The three bodies have been bagged, and the men were handed over to the State Environmental Health Monitoring Unit, SEHMU, to be deposited at the morgue.
“The woman victim, identified as Alhaja, was handed over to her family after proper documentation by the Marine Police Officers,” Tiamiyu said.
The Lagos State Police Public Relations Officer, CSP Chike Oti, added that the remains of Alhaja Biola Akanni were moved by her family members, who insisted that autopsy should not be performed on the remains due to Islamic rites.