By Peters Monday, Abuja
About 20 fishermen have reportedly drowned after a boat conveying them on the stretch of the Benue River capsized.
Congress learnt that the incident, which occurred on Wednesday comprised fishermen from Ibi and Gindin Doruwa in Wukari Local Government Area of the state.
However, The Taraba State Water Transportation Chairman, Jidda Suleiman, confirmed the incident to newsmen, stating that the boat mishap happened between the Anyeci area of the Wukari council of Taraba State and the Chinkai axis of Benue State.
He said, “I was informed that the fishermen converged and boarded the boat to Kwara State in search for greener pasture, and along the way, they had an accident and over 20 people have died. “Twelve people out of the dead bodies are from Ibi while, some from Gareji, in Gindin Doruwa, Wukari council of Taraba State. “It has been the tradition of our fishermen in Taraba State that once it is close to December, some will travel to Cameroon, some to Chad and other places to fish till August of the following year. Unfortunately, the usual tradition turned to be sorrowful this time.”
He advised both state and Federal Governments to provide life jackets for jetties to avert future occurrences. Governor Agbu Kefas of Taraba State has expressed sadness over the tragic accident. A statement by his Special Adviser on Media and Digital Communications, Emmanuel Bello, bemoaned the recurrent boat mishaps and assured that his government was already working on measures to stop the waterways tragedies.
He said: “Today’s boat incident is even more unfortunate since it is coming on the heels of a similar one in Karim Lamido that threw the state into mourning. It is heartbroken, however, I wish to appeal that the government is already on top of the situation as various investigations are underway to unravel the remote causes of boat mishaps in the state. I will soon personally tour the affected areas to meet with local stakeholders in the waterways transport sectors to ensure that the water transport system is safe for passengers.
“Measures are put in place to face out old boats and introduce the compulsory use of life jackets among other life-saving measures.”