June 2, 2021
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Boat operators under the aegis of the Association of Tourist Boat Operators and Water Transporters of Nigeria (ATBOWATON) have predicted more accidents and loss of lives along the Malele to Kebbi waterways following the loss of 76 lives to a recent boat mishap in Niger State.

In a statement issued recently in Lagos, President of ATBOWATON, Mr Ganiu Tarzan Balogun described the recent boat accident as a national tragedy and embarrassment to the nation.

“I can’t understand the usual blame game against water transporters and boat operators. We are used to the stereotype and often rush to call boat operators names without due investigation to find out if overloading and sundry operational failings are behind the accident. Someone needs to come out to tell us what the government has done on that route?

“The truth is that ATBOWATON cannot singlehandedly keep the waterways safe and also create enabling operational environment. It is not all accidents on water that are attributable to overloading and non-wearing of life jackets. There are system failures on waterways such as mapping, dredging and wreck removals. Those are the major issues across the waterways in those areas and until both the state and federal governments appreciate the fact that the River Niger from Malele down to Kebbi and further ahead needs serious attention as a channel of huge economic activities, then more of what happened may still reoccur,” Mr. Balogun explained.

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