By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.
It was a black Saturday in Katcha and Mokwa council areas of Niger State as tragedies stroke on land and waterways killing no fewer than thirteen lives with huge economic losses.
In the first incidence, seven persons including four women and three children were drowned Saturday morning when the boat in which they were travelling in along River Gbako in Katcha local government area of Niger State capsized midstream.
Eye witness account said the ill fated boat was conveying about ten passengers, all of them females from a neighbouring village of Balsa to a nearby coastal village on a mission to trash paddy rice on a rice field as labourers.
But midway through, the boat approached strong tidal waves. And strenuous efforts by the driver to paddle the boat out of the troubled water only resulted in futility as the overpowering current surged gravely against them.
One of the local fishermen recounted that the boat was rowing against the tidal waves when suddenly the driver lost his steam, stopped midway in the current and the boat broke, sank with all its human cargo midstream.
Only three of the passengers on board the boat were rescued alive by local fishermen and divers who were within close range from where the boat sank.
Even the owner of the farm where the victims were heading to, to trash his rice, Malam Yabagi, lost three members of his family, (one of his wives, a daughter and granddaughter) in the unfortunate incident.
That incident occurred at the Gbako river, a coastal border area with neighbouring Katcha and Lavun local government areas of Niger state.
In a related tragic development, six people have died when two Petrol Tankers collided in a ghastly accident along Mokwa-Jebba road same day.
The resultant impact from the head on collision sparked off an inferno which caused death and loss of property worth several millions of naira.
The surging flames from the conflagrations spread to some vehicles plying the road or stationed by the roadside.
The incidence resulted in long traffic gridlocks on the ever busy Mokwa – Jebba road causing untold hardship to travellers and other road users.
According to an eye witness to the accident, the accident was caused by two Petrol Tankers travelling on the same direction. One of the drivers of the vehicles attempted to overtake the one in front but in the process lost control and suffered brake failure.
And as he approached the failed portions of the road, he tried to slow down but to no avail even as the second vehicle made spirited attempt to avoid ramming into the rear of the vehicle overtaking his own.
The first vehicle in the process, ran against it lane and collided with a stationary tanker loaded with fuel before it again veered off to the sideview of a popular Guest House and hit the wall of the building.
One Abdulmalik Hussaini who spoke to our correspondent on phone from the scene of the accident, said the fuel Tanker with the failed breaks veered off the road, hit another Tanker loaded with fuel that was parked by the road side causing loud explosion and huge fire.
The occupants of the Tanker perished in the inferno while many residents, including some staff of the guest house were injured. Two of them were critically injured as a result.
Director General, Niger State Emergency Management Agency (NSEMA), Malam Ahmed Ibrahim Inga confirmed the incidents. He disclosed that about 12 shops around the scene of the tanker accident were completely razed.
Malam Inga who also spoke about the boat mishap, lamented over the loss of lives in the mishap. He attributed the incident to the strong tidal waves that is still very strong despite the end of the rains.
By; BALA B. BITRUS, Minna.