Junior Pope and Avoidable Deaths

ON daily basis, employees in all professions and vocations face dangerous conditions that put their lives at risk which at times lead to serious injury or even death. Despite advances in safety regulations and technologies, workers often have to contend with occupational hazards in offices, factories, construction sites and so on.Occupational hazards and avoidable deaths are unfortunately not uncommon in the Nollywood industry, just as they are in other industries in Nigeria. In their efforts to create impression, actors, crew members, and other personnel involved in the production of movies are often exposed to risks and dangers that can lead to serious injuries or even death.

NOLLYWOOD is recognized as the second-largest film industries globally in terms of outputs, turning out over 2,500 movies each year, courtesy of our hardworking producers, actors and actresses and other crew members. Nigerian filmmakers compete favourably with their counterparts in Hollywood, Bollywood and other industries around the world with the likes of Jim Iyke, Genevieve Nnaji, the legendary Olu Jacobs and others featuring in Hollywood films. Most of our youngsters in the industry lately are doing great jobs. A delve into films like Ajanaku, Wura, Funke Akindele’s ‘A Tribe Called Judah’ that raked in N1billion in one month and many more are a testament to the great feats achieved by these ones. Most of these films are in cinemas with huge investment.

HOWEVER, producers of these films have a responsibility to provide a safe work environment for their employees. Unfortunately, safety is sacrificed on the altar of profits. From cutting corners on training to overlooking maintenance of equipment and staff welfare, safety is often compromised.  These expose crew members to avoidable risks of accidents and deaths.

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THE April 10 incident in the industry that led to the tragic death of John Paul Odonwodo popularly known as Junior Pope and other crew members when a boat conveying them to a movie location capsized on Anam River in Anambra State shows that Nigerians are not safety conscious.

THE value we place on human lives and how we like to take unnecessary risk, to say the least, is causal and careless .As much as commiserates with the Nollywood industry and the families of these crew members, such was avoidable if safety protocols were adhered to. In the first instance, traveling on water for someone who does not know how to swim without a life jacket is the height of risk taking. Local swimmers could have also been arranged for a rescue mission in case of emergency.

IT is evidenced that we don’t learn from past experiences considering the number of people who had died in boat mishaps this year alone. On January 10, at least 20 people were reported dead in an accident involving two passenger boats traveling from Andoni to Bonny Island in Rivers State. Another boat mishap claiming eight passengers lives were confirmed dead with estimated 100 people missing in North Central Nigeria according to a report on January 16.

TO prevent future occurrence, The Hope calls on Nollywood industry to emplace practicing code and regulations and ensure enforcement. Vulnerability and deaths should be avoided as much as possible. Insurance is also critical because some things will definitely happen. But with insurance, there will be succour for those left behind.

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WE also urge employees to take an active role in ensuring their own safety. By following safety protocols, reporting hazards, and advocating for their rights, they can help prevent accidents and save lives. The partnership between employers and employees is crucial in creating a culture of safety in the workplace. The Hope also calls on agencies of government to be proactive in disaster management and should not wait till disaster happen before putting measures in place.

Junior Pope and Avoidable Deaths

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