Following the December 1 boat mishap that occurred in Lafiagi, Edu local government area of Kwara State in which 19 persons were drowned while travelling across the River Niger, the Senate has directed the National Inland Waterways Agency, NIWA to ensure the mandatory usage of life jackets by passengers travelling across the River Niger, other rivers and oceans in the country.
The upper legislative chamber also urged the Federal Ministry of Power, Works and Housing to urgently intervene in the construction of Lafiagi-Niger State road so as to reduce, if not eliminate the incessant ugly incidents.
The Senate resolutions were sequel to a motion, “The avoidable boat mishap in Lafiagi, Kwara State”, by Senator Mohammed Sha’aba Lafiagi, PDP-Kwara North.
Leading debates on the motion, Senator Lafiagi lamented that the 19 persons who lost their lives in the tragic incident were aged between 12 and 19 years.
He noted that “the use of canoes and boats is the only available means of transportation for the border towns of Lafiagi in Kwara and its neighbours in Niger State”.
This, the former Kwara State governor, explained “is as a result of the abandonment of the 46km road project that should ordinarily link Kwara and Niger States, thus mitigating the incessant occurrence of boat mishaps in the riverine community”.
While lamenting that Lafiagi town “is still in a very mournful mood as s result of the drowning of 19 children”, he informed that “such ugly incident occurs intermittently as a result of lack of access road in the riverine community”.
Senator Lafiagi observed that incessant boat mishaps in the area would have been eliminated or reduced considerably if the government had constructed the only road that links Lafiagi to neighbouring towns, warning that the people of Kwara and Niger States would continue to live on a time bomb waiting to consume them if the trend is not arrested promptly.
“If the 46km road is constructed or a bridge is built across the River Niger, businesses and trade activities will be enhanced with the reduction of the attendant risk to the lives of our people”, he noted.
In his remarks, the deputy senate president, Senator Ike Ekweremadu, charged the federal government as well as Kwara and Niger States governments to ensure the construction of the roads linking the two states in order to avoid further loss of lives through boat mishaps.