By Deng Ghai Deng in Juba
Two children drowned on Wednesday along the Nile after their boat capsized while traveling to Bor from Juba as a result of apparent overloading, Jonglei State Boat Trade Union said.
The Union Deputy Director Elijah Thong bor said the fateful boat was carrying 34 passengers and 200 tons of goods worth 5 million South Sudanese Pounds when its engine failed and started sinking near Pariak town, Kolnyang Payam of Bor South County.
“The boat was coming from Jubacarrying 200 metric tons of goods. It came and stopped in James a and started coming to Bor in the morning. On the way near Pariak, it got an accident; the engine stopped and the operator could not control the boat. There was cut in the middle of the boat and drowned in the river,” Thonbor said
Thong bor said the boat was loaded beyond its capacity. He warned traders and boat operators of severe penalties for endangering the lives of passengers.
“Passengers cannot be mixed with goods. The boat of goods can be loaded alone and the passengers’ boat can be separate. This is what we have been telling the drivers and boat managers but sometimes other people refuse,” Thonbor lamented.
The Jonglei state police spokesman Major Majak Daniel Tuor also confirmed the incident and said the police have launched an investigation into the cause of the accident.
“The boat was carrying 34 passengers and out of the passengers 2 children of which we have not confirmed their ages up to now passed on and the 32 were rescued by the rescue team. The river transport police unit are preparing to carry out some investigations into what was the cause of boat capsizing.” Tuor said
Major Tuorsaid that police had noticed that many motorboat captains who travel along the Nile River get drunk or intoxicated when they sail in the river.
Some fatal boat accidents have been witnessed along the Nile River in the recent past years. In November last year, at least 10 people, including five children, died after a boat which was heading to Malakal town sank with 28 people on the White Nile River in Upper Nile state. Again in December, eight children and an elderly woman got drowned when a boat they were traveling in capsized in Sobat River in Upper Nile State.