Nathan Tamarapreye, Yenagoa
Three dead bodies have been recovered from Thursday’s boat mishap site along the Yenagoa-Brass waterways, says the Maritime Workers Union.
Initial reports had it that passengers who boarded the cargo boat swam to safety while others were rescued.
Contrary to the earlier report, Mr Ipigansi Ogoniba, Bayelsa chapter Chairman of the Maritime Workers Union said on Saturday that three drowned bodies have so far floated and recovered.
According to him, it takes 24 hours after a boat mishap for drowned victims to float.
Ogoniba stated that one of the three victims, a woman has been identified by relatives who took the remains to a mortuary in Yenagoa while the two male victims have yet to be identified.
It was gathered that a boat mishap involving a cargo boat MV Tari happened on Thursday along the Yenagoa-Nembe-Brasss waterways.
Ogoniba explained that preliminary investigations showed that the cargo boat was carrying, at least, 100 passengers when the sad incident occurred.
He said that it was regrettable that passengers resort to joining cargo boats with no provisions for comfort and safety for passengers.
“The local boats are designed for heavy cargo and not for passengers, but people smuggle themselves into these boats and pay very little fares to the operators.
“Unfortunately, the regulation on the use of safety jackets is somehow weak because the boats are not primarily for passengers, there is no manifest to ascertain the exact number of passengers on board.
“The captain of the boat estimated that about 100 passengers on board on board and we found that the load was not balanced and made the boat unbalanced.
“The practice is to put heavier load under the lower compartment and then lighter ones on top, but we learnt that they did not follow this rule and made the boat susceptible to the waves,” Ogoniba said.
He noted that statutory regulatory agencies had abdicated their roles, and left the regulation of the marine transport sector to the Maritime Workers Union.
The ill-fated cargo boat capsized near Okoroma in the Nembe Local Government Area of Bayelsa.
Mr Asinim Butswat, a Superintendent of Police confirmed the incident but said that the casualty figure is yet to be ascertained.