Boat mishaps: 17 people die monthly in Nigeria

OVER the past six years, Nigeria has witnessed a troubling trend in boat accidents, with 1,204 lives lost between January 2018 and October 2023; data collated by The ICIR Data shows the grim reality of safety concerns on the nation’s waterways.

This means 17 people die monthly from boat mishaps when 1,204 is divided by the 70 months within the review period.

In the past six years, media reports have recorded boat accidents and casualties in 25 of Nigeria’s 36 states, plus the Federal Capital Territory (FCT). Fatalities include women and children, although efforts were made to rescue many.

The top 10 affected states with the highest number of fatalities from boat mishaps between January 2018 and October 2023 are:

  • Niger 275,
  • Kebbi 144,
  • Kwara 125,
  • Sokoto 117,
  • Lagos 92,
  • Anambra 80,
  • Bauchi 76,
  • Kano 45,
  • Bayelsa 40,
  • and Benue 34.

The ICIR Data collated the data by monitoring online media reports on boat mishaps. This data collation is limited to online news reports. Boat mishaps that may have been reported only via offline media platforms were not captured in this report.

Timeline of boat mishaps

In 2018, there were 111 fatalities due to boat accidents. The following year, 2019, recorded 97 lives lost under similar circumstances. In 2020, the situation worsened, resulting in 161 casualties.

The year 2021 saw Nigeria sustain the trajectory of boat accident fatalities, as a staggering 307 lives were lost to the crisis, one of which was the boat mishap in Niger State, where more than 100 lives were lost. The trend continued in 2022, with 244 reported deaths.

Over 100 lives have also been lost in a single incident in Kwara State this year, making a total of 284 people who have lost their lives in boat accidents in 2023. Data reveals that Lagos, Niger, Sokoto, and Kebbi States are susceptible to experiencing boat accidents almost annually.



    The recurrence of this tragedy emphasizes the gravity of the situation. It is noteworthy that not only were lives lost, but properties and goods worth millions of naira perished in the accidents.

    Emergency services have attributed these accidents to factors like overcrowding, inadequate boat maintenance, reliance on ageing vessels, and neglecting safety gear during water travel.

    Meanwhile, President Bola Tinubu ordered a thorough investigation into the tragedies.

    The President also assured the affected families and communities of the government’s continued support and his commitment to preventing such tragic incidents from occurring in the future.

    Glory Osho

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