A wooden boat conveying goods and passengers from Swali Waterside in Yenagoa to the Brass Local Government Area capsized on Thursday close to the Okoroma area.
The number of lives lost is yet to be confirmed as more corpses were seen trapped inside the boat by local divers.
The Police Public Relations Officer (PPRO) of the Bayelsa Police Command, Asinim Butswat, revealed that the boat did not have a record of the number of passengers it conveyed. He added that the search is still on to ensure that every survivor is rescued.
“The divers are still on the site, they are trying to recover more bodies, it is obvious that they don’t have manifest. They don’t even know the exact number of persons on board that boat into Okoroma.
“The maritime gave a figure but our own but we can’t rely on the information they are giving us because it is just a flexi. But from all indications – looking at the number of persons that survived and the bodies recovered – there are maybe some bodies under the water,” he said.
Meanwhile, the chairman of the Bayelsa State Maritime Union, Comrade Ogoniba Ipigansi has narrated the account of the movement of the boat before the accident occurred.
“The local boat name is Divine Favour, Okoroma Brass. It’s a local wooden boat that loaded goods and passengers at Swali Market Front, Yenagoa, Bayelsa State. The boat left at 8:45 am in the morning to go to Brass.
“The boat by the ticket issued carried about 94 persons, but by the offloading, the manager cannot really get the records of the people that offloaded. But the people that left from the four communities I mentioned, up to 50-something persons had been offloaded.
“After the boat left the community called Iwokri, the same in Okoroma clan, the water is dry water, the boat was about to turn to a close by clique going to brass, some of the parts touched the saloon area and the boat was loaded with drums of fuel and other items at the up,
“The boat bent to one side and those drums fell and some of the passengers moved to that side; that was the cause of the mishap. After the boat mishap, the people that lost their lives that we saw on Friday, we saw two dead bodies, a female and a male.”
Ipigansi noted that there were attempts by the community, rescue team and divers to recover survivals.
“Then yesterday [Saturday], we still saw a female and a two-year-old boy. We went to the boat with the rescue team and we are trying to bring out the boat with basses but because of how heavy the boat was, the boat could not come out.
“We sought for the divers; divers came. Even the divers try to go inside the boat and check and the divers are telling us that they saw more than two people dead, but they don’t know the numbers but they are meeting people dead.
“The people have grabbed the pillar of the boat, they tried to push it but no way, unless they bring the boat out. For now, we don’t know actually know the number that died…” he said.
The chairman also stated that travelling through the waterway is the only functional means of transportation to Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, adding that transportation of goods and persons via local boats is a daily occurrence in Bayelsa State.