A boat carrying at least 160 people capsized Wednesday in the Niger River in northwestern Nigeria. The boat was meant to carry no more than 80 passengers.
The incident occurred near the town of Wara, which is on the shores of the Kainji Lake, according to a spokesman of the governor of Kebbi. Abdullahi Buhari Wara, an administrative head of the Ngaski district, said the boat was overloaded as it left central Niger and was traveling on the river, when it broke apart and sank.
Boats capsize fairly regularly in Nigerian and Nigerien waters because of overcrowding and a lack of maintenance, especially during the annual rainy season.
Around 20 people have been rescued and four bodies recovered so far, she said, adding that the search and rescue operations are ongoing.Most of the passengers are from Kebbi State and are believed to be traders, Noel-Berje said.Authorities are citing overloading as the cause of the accident.
Earlier this month 30 people drowned when an overloaded boat broke apart in central Niger. The boat broke in two after hitting a stump during a storm, according to emergency officials.
The accidents put pressure on Nigerian authorities to tighten policies on water transportation.
Common boat accidents
Boat capsizes are common on Nigerian waterways mostly due to overcrowding and lack of maintenance, particularly in the annual rainy season.
Early this month 30 people drowned when an overloaded boat capsized in central Niger state.
The boat ferrying 100 local traders split into two after hitting a stump during a storm as they were returning from a local market, according to emergency officials.
They are usually attributed to overloading, waterway obstructions, and surging water waves during rainy season. There are also concerns about poor maintenance of the boats.