•Maritime union: Why boat accident happened
Emmanuel Addeh in Yenagoa
The bodies of three of the four soldiers who drowned after a boat conveying them and some military ammunition capsized along the waterways of Brass in Brass Local Government Area of Bayelsa State, last Monday have been recovered.
THISDAY gathered that a combined team of the marine component of the Nigerian military operating in the Niger Delta region and local divers have been battling to find the missing troops since the incident happened.
Specifically, the military authorities were said to have sought the assistance of Okpoama community youths in Brass, who knew the terrain well, who also in collaboration with professionals in the force, found the corpses of the deceased soldiers.
The recoveries started late yesterday evening when two corpses of the drowned troops were first seen, while the third corpse was discovered early yesterday morning after floating far away from the scene of the incident.
However, eight of the soldiers attached to the Joint Task Force (JTF), Operation Delta Safe (ODS), in the boat earlier survived the accident, as they were able to swim to safety when the heavily loaded boat capsized, worsened by the high tides at the time.
The affected military officers, who were carrying out a security exercise, codenamed: ‘Operation Crocodile Smile,’ meant to halt criminalities in the Niger Delta, also had their service rifles missing.
Meanwhile, the Bayelsa State Chairman of the National Maritime Union, Mr. Lloyd Sese, yesterday attributed the tragic boat accident that claimed the lives of the four soldiers to poor equipment used by the troops.
He argued that a low-powered engine boat was conveying the military personnel through the creeks when the incident happened.
Speaking in Yenagoa, Sese said preliminary investigation conducted by the Brass Unit of the Maritime Union showed that the accident could have been avoided if adequate logistics were arranged with high capacity engine boats used.
“They made use of small boats with low capacity engines,” he said.
While commiserating with the military authorities, he called on them to consult the union for logistics and transport during such movements.
He said: “While we commiserate with the Nigerian military on the loss of their men, we call on the military to consult those involved in the day to day commercial activities along the creeks and the waterways.”
The operation which is being coordinated by the 2 Brigade, Port Harcourt, Rivers State, was designed by the military to equip the amphibious and internal security operations in the riverine areas of the Delta against militants.