Tales of death at Bagwai River
By Victor Christopher
Uncontrollable outbursts of crying, regret and frustration could still be noticed on faces of Bagwai residents barely two week after the unfortunate boat mishap.
Arriving at the village after two hour trip from Kano city on Monday, the darkly elevated mood of Abdulrahaman Hatta caught the attention of our correspondent. Hatta explains how his admission seeking boy of 19 year old died alongside other 40 passengers during the accident.
“That morning he told me he wants to check his WAEC result. He later returned home happy that the result was good and he wants to further his education. Later that day i was called that he was in an accident and died in the process. We accept that this thing is from God, but i am still heartbroken about the whole incident”. He said.
Also, one of the survivors simply identified as Musa, links the accident to overloading as he narrates how the captain of the boat added eleven extra passengers without live jacket, as well as carrying bags of maize and onions.
“Our teacher chartered the boat for 37 of us including himself and his friend, but added extra passengers including bag of Maize and Onion. He did not tell us that the boat was overloaded until we were at the middle of the dam. We were just helpless there. Before, we had a modern boat but when it was faulty, the boat sailors sold it a parts for about four million naira”.
Speaking to Solacebase on the development, a traditional ruler in Bagwai, Danladi Yahaya Bagwai, also blames the Sailors for negligence, adding that lack of the captains who could cross-check the required number of the boat capacity is also a major challenge.
“The boat was built to take about 20 passengers but the boat pilot took about 50 people. That was why the boat capsized. We are calling the State Government to provide at least two modern boat for the community’.
But, Jafaru Halilu Bagwai, father of the captain of the ill-fated boat, expressed dismay over the unfortunate incident, just as he disagrees with those linking the accident to overloading.
Jafaru however apologize on the outcome of the unfortunate incident.
“I am really concern about this incident, but if the boat was overloaded as claimed, then the boat will not even move in the first place. Only Allah knows what really happened.
I sincerely apologize on the outcome of the incident”.
However, our correspondent observes that the boat shortage may also inform the reason for been overloaded in the village of over 200, 000 population, with just a single wooden boat.
When a similar accident occurred in 2008, the State Govt. bought a new boat for the villagers, but unfortunately, when the new boat started developing faults, the issue of spare parts became a problem, the villagers transferred its engine to the wooden boat which eventually capsized last week.
“The people said they can make a wooden boat for us for free after ours became faulty. We later reached an agreement with the local government chairman and signed some papers. But people are accusing us of cannibalizing and selling the boat parts for millions of naira. That is not true”. Jafaru said.
Following the deadly incident, the State Government banned commercial transportation on Bagwai River and provided three 20-seater buses as an alternative, though, road transport in the riverine village takes about two hours when compared to the water transport of about 30mins.
During his condolence visit to Badau, the State Governor, Abdullahi Ganduje promised to provide modern boats soonest and hire mariners to be regulating the number of passengers to avert recurrence.
“We will provide three modern boats for Badau and Bagwai. We will also build an office for mariners to be regulating the number of passengers on board in order to address another incident’.
As this kind of promise is not new to the villagers, this time around, they are hoping for prompt actions and sustainable measures to end such calamity in the area.