Indiscriminate Parking of
barges Tug-boats and wreckages on the Marine Base-Okrika waterways has been identified as the cause of the recent Abuloma Jetty boat mishap in which a six-year old boy, Master Tamunosiki Alamina Koko lost his life.
The Tide maritime correspondent gathered that the incident occurred at about 10.O’clock in the morning when there was a low tide.
It was learnt that the driver of the speed boat (names withheld) with abou 12-passengers on board was coming from Okrika to Port Harcourt, but had to branch off at Abuloma to drop some of the passengers.
Our correspondent was told that the entrence to the Abuloma Jetty for passengers to disembark was blocked by two barges making it impossible for the driver to berth.
But the driver, in a bid to manoeuvre in between the two badges could not control the speed boat as the pressure of the water pushed the boat into one of barges , making the passengers to shift move to the other side, thereby causing the boat to sink.
Our correspondent also learnt that more lives would have been lost but for the help of the lives vest and guide intervention of some good Samaritans who rescued them.
The Tide gathered that the deceased was in company of his mother and his immediate senior sister Emmanuella on their way to Port Harcourt to attend a church programme before the sad incident occurred.
One of the survivors in the ill feted boat Miss Tamunosiki Achese, a student of University of Port Harcourt (UNIPORT), who later narrated her ordeal to our correspondent however thanked God for her survival and advised that speed boat drivers should be conscious and careful with the lives of their passengers.
Following the incident, it was further noted that the two barges in question have been seized and handed over to the Army personnel at the Okrika Jetty.
Meanwhile, the chairman, Okrika speed Boat Owners Association, Chief Opeya Sunday Okari has lamented the danger posed by the barges and wreaks, saying efforts have been intensified through series of letters and contacts even through sir Alaye Eremie, former commissioner for Empowerment Gener5ation and a former lawmaker, Hon James Fuayefika, but all to no avail. He appealed to the Government and other authorities, Nigeria Maritime Administration and safety Agency (NIMASA) to come to their aid by clearing the waterways for safety and to avent futher mishaps.
Chief Okari said the association had taken the matter to the Marine police, Inland waterways and currently to Rivers Stat Sanitation Authority, and that although some Uniform men and a Port Harcourt family in Abuloma that claimed to be the owners of the Jetty area are making things difficult, but expressed confidence that the issue would be lookd into by the authorities for the lives and property of its citizenry.
He said despite the high cost of petrol in the state, his organisation still collects N200 per drop from Port Harcourt to Okrika and also provided life Jackets free for passengers. Unlike other areas, and appealed to Government to provide vest to boat drivers at subsidized prices while also appealing to the Okrika local government council, Hon. Tamuno Williams to fulfil his promise of making available some life Jackets to the union.
The chairman however condoled with the family of the deceased and prayed God to give them the fortitude to bear the irreparable loss.