World

Everything to Know About the Nigeria Boat Accident


TL;DR (2-minute read)

  1. On Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, a 180-passenger boat departed from the village of Lokon Minna in central Niger State to embark on a short voyage to a market in Warrah in Kebbi State on the other side of the Niger River. The small, wooden, overcrowded boat, which was only supposed to carry 80-150 people, had illegally picked up traders and vendors, mostly women and children who were travelling to Warrah to sell food at a market while avoiding taxes. But, the boat capsized after hitting an object in the river.
  2. As of Saturday, June 5th, at least 81 bodies have been recognized as deceased, though residents expect more to wash up in the next couple of days. Although most passengers are still missing, local officials have recovered around 40 people, but this number is expected to increase as more and more resources are being invested to recover these people
  3. Organizations around the world criticized the government’s initial poor response to the incident, specifically blaming the lack of safety regulations while Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari simply offered his condolences and donated funds for the families of the victims.

Key Questions to Consider:

  1. What happened?
  2. What was the victim count?
  3. What was the aftermath?

1: What happened?

On Wednesday, May 26th, 2021, an incident took place in the northwestern Nigerian state of Kebbi. A 180-passenger boat departed from the village of Lokon Minna in central Niger State to embark on a short voyage to a market in Warrah in Kebbi State on the other side of the Niger River. The small, wooden, overcrowded boat, which was only supposed to carry 80-150 people, had illegally picked up traders and vendors, mostly women and children who were travelling to Warrah to sell food at a market, along the river to avoid taxes. In addition to the immoderate number of people in the boat, there were heavy bags of sand from the nearest gold mine, adding up to the unfortunate series of events that caused this tragedy. Some time between 8:15 am and 8:20 am, the boat hit an object in the central Niger State, resulting in the boat capsizing and endangering hundreds of innocent lives. 

More than 150 feared drowned in Nigeria boat accident - France 24
A map of Nigeria (AFP)

2: What was the victim count?

Qasimu Umar Wara, a Wara resident explained how the boat was overloaded, emphasizing the point that his brother is among those missing. This situation is synonymous to the hundreds of families affected by this tragedy as officials are still attempting to find and recover the remaining people missing. As of Saturday, June 5th, at least 81 bodies have been recognized as deceased, though residents expect more to wash up in the next couple of days. Although most passengers are still missing, local officials have recovered around 40 people, but this number is expected to increase as more and more resources, such as time and money, are being invested to recover these people. “Bodies are still being recovered. We can’t ascertain the number for now,” says Yahaya Sarki, a spokesman for the governor of Kebbi.

Dozens feared dead after boat with 200 passengers sinks in Nigeria | The  Independent
Overcrowding is a common problem in boats along the Niger River (Getty Images)

3: What was the aftermath?

Although Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari offered his condolences and donated funds for the families of the victims, organizations around the world criticized the government’s initial poor response to the incident, specifically blaming the lack of safety regulations. The National Inland Waterways Authority, however, blamed the people for overloading the wooden ship. Overall, this tragedy exemplified the importance of waterway regulations and importance of following waterway regulations to the rest of the world. 

Sources

https://www.cnn.com/2021/05/26/africa/nigeria-boat-sinks-intl/index.html

https://www.dw.com/en/nigeria-dozens-drown-after-boat-capsizes/a-57677637

https://www.reuters.com/world/africa/boat-carrying-some-200-people-capsizes-nigeria-2021-05-26/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2021_Nigerian_boat_accident

france24.com/en/live-news/20210526-more-than-150-feared-drowned-in-nigeria-boat-accident

https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/africa/nigeria-boat-sink-death-toll-b1854456.html

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