Moruf Kelani, one of the survivors of the July 29 boat mishap at Badagry waterways, has blamed the tragic incident on greed by boat operators and regulatory officials.
Recall that in 16 passengers out of 19 on the boat had drowned in the incidence, according to the Lagos State Waterways Authority at about 6.00PM en route to Badagry on July 29.
A survivor narrated that the boat capsized when the boat captain got distracted while trying to collect fares from passengers.
He said the boat was overturned by the current while most passengers were yet to put on their life jackets properly.
But Kelani said that 22 passengers were on board of the ill-fated boat, including two operators – the boatman and his assistant.
“Normally, we don’t pay fares until we get to our destination, but that day, the boatman insisted on collecting the money.
“The boatman thought that it would be difficult to collect N1,500 from passengers when they arrive Badagry instead of the normal N1200, so he started collecting the fares at the point of departure,” he said.
Kelani explained that the assistant boatman also didnt start the boat engine, as he was busy supervising the collection of the fare, until they reached he high sea without starting the engine.
“We realised that the high current was pushing the boat near the parked barge around Kirikiri, so we shouted at him to start the engine.
He noted that more sad was the fact that LASWA rescuers came over two hours after the boat had capsized and almost all passengers had died.
“LASWA did not rescue anybody because they came two hours after the boat had capsized to remove dead bodies of the passengers inside the lagoon.
“When the boat capsized, the boatman and his assistant swam out of the lagoon because they were experts. Then, out of the 17 passengers that went down after the boat mishaps, God saved me.
“The rest 16 passengers, including my friend and business partner, Benjamin Ojerinola, perished inside the deep sea due to greed of the boatman,” the survivor added.
On how he survived the mishap, Kelani said only God saved his life.
He said after the boat capsized, he found himself deep down inside the lagoon.
He added that as he was trying to swim back up from the sea, his hand touched the boat because the boat sank with them.
“Then, suddenly, God gave me the instinct to hold on to the boat that it will float because it was made of fiber.
He said held on to the boat with one of his hands till it reached up, adding that he couldnt see anything nor swim.
“After the boat had floated out, I hung my leg around the boat and my head on somewhere on the boat for about 30 minutes with hope that before the boat gets to Liverpool jetty, a saviour will come.
“My head was outside and I was able to breathe as the high current from the sea was carrying the boat from one place to another,” he explained.
Kelani urged the Lagos State Government to totally overhaul and reorganise LASWA to enable the agency to effectively perform its safety, standard and regulatory roles to make the state waterways safer for public transportation.