Governorship aspirant on the platform of the All Progressives Congress (APC) inRivers State, Senator Magnus Ngei Abe, has called for stiffer regulations for the marine transport sector in Rivers State in order to check incessant cases of boat mishap on the waterways.
Abe spoke against the backdrop of a recent boat accident along the Bakana waterways, Degema Local Government Area, which resulted in several fatalities.
He described the late Joseph Blankson, who died while rescuing his fellow passengers when the boat they were travelling in capsized on Saturday, July 28, 2018, as a genuine hero.
Senator Abe, who spoke when he paid a condolence visit to the family of the late Blankson of Bakana Community in Degema Local Government Area of Rivers State, expressed regrets that several lives are lost daily on waterways.
He said the state government ought to do more by ensuring that those responsible for movement of passenger-boats on waterways in the state live up to their responsibilities.
Abe, who is also the Senator representing Rivers South-East Senatorial District in the National Assembly said: “We need to find out exactly why these things continue to occur and people are not being held accountable”.
“What are the rules and regulations that guide our waterways? Who are those responsible for enforcement of the rules? Why do we continue to throw precious lives away without taking action?”
What are we doing to ensure that whoever is responsible is held accountable and punished to ensure that it does not happen again to other people?
“More importantly, we need to realise that when we do not have regulations, or where we have regulations and we fail to enforce them, where people are charged with responsibility and they fail to discharge that responsibility and in the process lives are lost, those responsible for that thing that they did not do are responsible for those lives that are lost”.
“As we stand here today, people have died on our waterways. If these passengers had life jackets, if they obeyed the regulations that govern our waterways, all these people that are dead will today be alive”.
“We must go beyond issuing statements”
“We must take practical steps to punish those that are responsible and to ensure that this does not happen again, so that tomorrow, we do not need to pay this kind of visit to another mother that is grieving”.
The Senator further said, “From what I gathered, several other lives were lost. There are several homes today where there is no joy. Strong action must be taken to forestall a repeat of this tragedy.”
Responding on behalf of the family, Nimi Bobmanuel expressed happiness over Abe’s visit and thanked him for his compassionate words.