CILT Reports: Nigerian Waterways of Death Claims 300 Souls in 2023

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Barr Mfon Ekong Usoro

The Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT, Nigeria) investigative committee on boat accidents on Nigeria’s coastal and inland waterways has confirmed that in 2023, over 300 deaths were recorded across Nigeria following passenger ferry accidents on the coastal and inland waterways.

Foremost maritime lawyer and the Nigerian President of the CILT, Mrs Mfon Usoro who made the disclosure in a statement, Thursday, has therefore called for a stringent application of safety awareness culture by operators and other stakeholders on the inland waterways.

According to her, an independent online investigation by the CILT Nigeria Publicity Committee revealed that over 300 lives were lost to different boat accidents across the country in 2023.

Giving a vivid explanation of available statistics of mishaps on the nation’s brown waters, Usoro who is the pioneer Director-General of the Nigerian Maritime Administration and Safety Agency (NIMASA) detailed recently-recorded ferry and boat accident and fatalities which included 5 Nollywood actors and crew in Asaba, Delta State; 3 medical students in Calabar, Cross River State and 3 passengers in Ibeshe, Ikorodu, Lagos State. Also on record are 8 dead and estimated 100 persons declared missing in Borgu District, Niger State, 8 passengers in Anambra State, etc.

“Overwhelming cause of the ferry disasters were the occurrence of one or a combination of the following factors: overloading, non-use of lifejackets, adverse weather conditions, human error, sub-standard boats and ferries, mechanical failures like engine breakdown, inadequate safety measures, absence of navigational aids, non-availability of search and rescue services and regulatory gaps.,” she explained .

Safety of lives and property at sea and rivers, Usoro reminded Nigerians, should be of paramount concern to everyone especially in the light of recurring boat mishaps.

She regretted that the incidents not only result in tragic loss of lives but also pose significant economic and environmental risks.

The CILT boss stated that while there is massive clamour for the use of inland waterways to promote public transportation, it is regrettable and saddening that frequent loss of lives are being associated with passenger ferries in the coastal and inland waterways.

“While we support the use of inland waterways as an alternative and viable mode of transportation, the incessant ferry-related incidents resulting in fatalities has prompted a closer look at the deficit in safety culture and non-adherence to safety measures by the parties responsible for safety on our waters.

Usoro, the immediate-past Secretary-General of the Abuja Memorandum of Understanding on Ports State Control (otherwise known as the Abuja MoU) pointed out that as far as the CILT is concerned, all stakeholders that constitute the “circle of responsibility” in safety of water transportation must work in collaboration to improve safety consciousness of ferry operators, jetty owners and persons that use waterways transport.

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