14-year old Hafsat from Benin Republic and 27-year old Togolese Sani Kieve, are 2 of the survivors who were rescued by Kaztec Engineering staff offshore, after a boat carrying an estimated 128 people capsized off Nigerian coast of Calabar last week.
The boat set off on Friday from neighboring country Benin, overloaded with passengers who had hoped to find work in Gabon, said the head of the Cross River State Emergency Management Agency, Vincent Aquah, citing survivor accounts.
The vessel had stopped at the Nigerian port of Oron to collect more passengers, but two hours after returning to sea the engine began taking on water.
The captain told passengers to pray, telling them “we are in serious trouble”, according to Aquah.
As the boat began to sink, passengers jumped into the water, with the captain and three others grabbing hold of the floating cylinder.
Only two of the four survived, including Kieve Sani and Hafsat who are both being treated at the Bakor Medical Centre Calabar, Cross River State.
At the hospital, Sani who is a commercial motorcyclist, confirmed to Oversabi Republic that the captain “and another lady held onto the cylinder with us, but as time went by (the captain) could not continue and told us he was going.” Later the woman also let go and slid beneath the surface.
As Sani and the teenage girl drifted together while clutching the cylinder, they saw a flame coming from an offshore oil field operated by Kaztec Engineering Limited, contrary to reports that the oil field was from Addax. The Kaztec staff who were on that vessel quickly dispatched another vessel to rescue Hafsat and Sani.
According to Sani, who had stayed in Oron for a few weeks from where the boat stopped to pick him, “It was just a miracle how we survived. We were so lucky that in that three days we clung to the gas cylinder, no fish came to swallow us. From nowhere i saw a can of coke and an energy drink afloat in the water and i quickly grabbed it while still holding on to the cylinder and Hafsat. We clung to the gas cylinder for three days before the Kaztec people came to our rescue”. Sani went further to tell Oversabi Republic that someone had promised to give him a job in Gabon if he could save up to 5, 500 Cepha that would take him from Oron to Gabon.
Although the wreckage of the ship is yet to be located, 27 other people have been rescued in Oron, Akwaibom State from the rescue operations which started on Sunday, bringing the total number to 29. 9 bodies have been recovered so far out of the estimated 128 people on board the capsized boat.
In a related development, founder of the Sir Emeka Offor Foundation (a philanthropic and charitable organisation), Sir Emeka Offor, whose Company Kaztec Engineering Limited rescued Hafsat and Sani, visited Bakor Medical Centre on Thursday, to know how they are fairing, made some cash donation as well as food items. While donating the food items on behalf of the SEO foundation, Sir Offor thanked the Medical Director of the hospital, Dr Ebaye for taking care of them so far while appreciating the miraculous way God used his company Kaztec to rescue them. He offered to employ the two of them (Sani and Hafsat) in his company as soon they are discharged.