Tragedy struck on Saturday in the Ikorodu area of Lagos State after a commercial boat capsized at Ijede, killing seven passengers.
Of the 17 passengers, four were said to have been recovered dead at the scene of the incident, while three of the 13 survivors were said to have given up the ghost after being taken to both public and private hospitals.
The total number of death recorded was seven.
Officials of the National Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Emergency Management Agency, Lagos State Waterways Authority, Marine Police, National Inland Waterways Authority, Lagos State Fire Service, and the local divers responded to the emergency.
The corpses were said to have been handed over to the police, as the boat manifest was still being awaited for ease of identification of the dead.
The boat wreckage had also been taken to the Island office of the Marine Police.
A rescue official with LASEMA said the incident happened around 10.20am, adding that the person in charge of the boat was unaware that dredging activities were ongoing.
He said, “A 20-passenger-capacity boat, conveying 17 passengers from Ijede en route Badore, capsized at about 10.20am. Preliminary investigation revealed that the boat, belonging to Aki Marine, had 17 passengers and two crew members on board.
“The accident was caused by the activities of sand scoopers, who filled up the water without the knowledge of the boat operators. The affected boat ran into the accumulated sand and fell off, throwing out all the passengers on board.”
The spokesperson for NEMA, South West zone, Ibrahim Farinloye, said NEMA mobilised other rescue agencies to the scene. He said, “It was the local divers that first tried to rescue the victims. But when they saw that the incident was beyond their power, they called us and we responded.
“Thirteen people were rescued alive, while four—three men and a woman— were recovered dead.”
The General Manager of LASEMA, Michael Akindele, said the agency had demanded the boat manifest and was awaiting the response of the operating company.
Akindele said further investigations would be conducted to get to the cause of the incident. He advised boat operators and passengers to observe necessary safety measures such as the use of life jackets and regular checks of boat facilities before embarking on water transportation.
According to the NEMA spokesperson, most of the survivors, who sustained minor injuries, left for their houses soon after their rescue. He, however, could not confirm how many survivors were still in the hospital.
The Managing Director, LASWA, Mrs. Abisola Kamson, in a statement, summoned an emergency meeting with all commercial boat operators in the state, which would hold on Tuesday.
The agency vowed to clamp down on boat operators who continue to contravene the rules and regulations guiding their operations.
Kamson said, “Despite efforts by the state government to enforce the safety standards on the waterways, some boat operators still flout the rules and regulations thereby putting the lives of innocent citizens at risk.
“The Lagos State Government will not tolerate the operation of substandard vessels on the waterways. Any individual or corporate entity found to be operating vessels not deemed water worthy will be prosecuted in accordance with the provisions of the law,” she said.
The LASWA boss, speaking at the scene of the incident, said the boat, Amen Limited, of Aki Marine Company, which was travelling from Ijede to Badore East, belonged to one Mr. Akeem Balogun.
She added that although all passengers on the boat were wearing their life jackets, the “covered design” of the boat made rescue efforts challenging and that investigations are ongoing in collaboration with the marine police.