Residents of riverine communities in Shagari Local Government of Sokoto State have decried recurring incidents of boat mishaps since the construction of the Shagari Dam in 2007.
Some residents told the News Agency of Nigeria on Sunday that many lives and properties had been lost to such unfortunate incidents in the period under review.
“If you can regrettably recall, 29 teenagers from Gidan-Magana lost their lives on Wednesday and this obnoxiously spiked the figures of the fatalities caused by such incidents,” Umar Magaji, a resident of Gidan-Magana said.
Another resident, from Modiyawa village, Mohammed Sharu said that 13 persons had also lost their lives as a result of a boat mishap at Doruwa village in June 2021.
Another concerned resident, Modin Sharu, who is a boat driver called for the provision of modern ferries and life jackets to the communities.
A local diver, Ango Waliyi, said the provision of the ferries and life vests would go a long way in saving lives in the event of unforeseen circumstances.
The Chairman of Shagari Local Government, Alhaji Aliyu Dantani, had confirmed the death of the 29 teenage firewood hawkers when the boat they were travelling in capsized on River Shagari on Wednesday.
Recall that no fewer than 13 persons, including women and children, died in another boat mishap that occurred in the area in June 2021.
The victims were reported to be travelling from Doruwa village to Ginga village when their boat capsized.
Dantani had also confirmed the incident then.
The Director-General, Sokoto State Emergency Management Agency, Alhaji Nasiru Aliyu, told NAN that the recurrence of such boat accidents was a source of concern to the state government.
”Officials of our agency and its sister federal agency, NEMA, had since visited Gidan-Magana village and assessed the situation.
”The state government has concluded plans to provide modern ferries to the riverine communities in the state, especially Shagari, Goronyo and Gada local governments.
”The state government will also provide adequate life jackets, as well as properly train the ferry drivers on modern techniques.
”The State government will also ensure the strict observance of all the globally-acceptable safety rules and regulations,” Aliyu said.
He stated that the agency had mapped out emergency plans for all 23 local governments.
“This is to safeguard the lives and properties of the people of the State in the event of any natural or man-induced emergencies like a flood, fire disasters and other natural occurrences,” Aliyu added.
The Shagari dam was constructed by the Federal Government in 2007 for irrigation farming.