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Gush of strong winds makes sailing deadly on L. Victoria

Three accidents claim over 30 lives in one month

Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | In a press release, the PRO Kampala Metropolitan Police; SSP Onyango Patrick, said at 5am on Aug.02, a boat capsized on Lake Victoria.

Onyango said the accident is attributed to overloading and bad weather. He said about 34 people were allegedly on board with bags of charcoal, fresh foods, silver fish among other items.

Onyango said at the time of the report, 20, people had been confirmed dead, and nine rescued. He said rescue efforts were underway with teams from Police Marines, UPDF Fisheries Protection Unit and local community involved.

“We appeal to members of the public who travel on waters to always wear life jackets and not to over load their vessels,” Onyango said.

By Aug.04 reports emerged that at least three other bodies from the accident had be retrieved bring the total of confirmed dead to 23. However, the missing two people were also presumed dead.

Press reports quoted Moses Kabuusu, the MP for Kyamuswa County on the Lake Victoria Islands of Kalangala the search for bodies was continuing.

The MP said the government should offers free life jackets to improve safety of those traveling by boat.

“If they have to enforce this mechanism of mandatory wearing of life jackets, they should give out life jackets to people traveling on water,” Kabuusu reportedly said.

The accident was one of three fatal boat accidents on the lake in the space of one month. On the morning of July 05 another boat capsized on the lake, killing at least five people. The boat from Kiseba islands in Kalangala District was heading to the Katosi landing site in Mukono district when it capsized to engine failure and bad weather.

News reports quoted Milton Ecopason, the Officer in Charge of the Marine Police at Katosi landing site, confirming that the boat was carrying eleven people. He reportedly said six people had been rescued while five others were presumed to have drowned. The boat was also carrying over 100 bags of charcoal, 40 bags of silverfish, and other produce.

Ecopason noted with concern that boats are frequently overloaded, lack personal safety devices, and disregard load limits. He criticised boat owners for not equipping their vessels with standard safety gear and highlighted the need for increased government efforts to educate people about the importance of safety measures.

Ecopason expressed concerns about the failure of boat owners and operators to register passenger information before embarking on journeys. This lack of documentation makes it challenging for the police to identify individuals, especially when bodies are found on the lake shores.

According to Ecopason, accidents tend to occur during periods of strong winds on the lake.

Many accidents occur on the lake and are not reported. In recent weeks, Ecopason said, three bodies had been discovered along the shores of the lake in the Katosi landing site area. The unidentified bodies remained at the city mortuary.

In another accident, one person died and another survived after the boat they were sailing from Kasi Island to Katosi capsized due to bad weather on July 05.

Onyango told journalists that two people were on board. The woman drowned, and the man was rescued by a fisherman. He blamed the boat accident on overloading of goods and bad weather.

Other accidents on Lake Victoria

• On November 24, 2018, MV Templar sank in Mukono district killing over 30 people.

• On September 20, 2018, at least 228 people died when the overloaded motor ferry MV Nyerere, carrying “close to 270 passengers”. About 41 people were rescued.

• On May 21 1996 the MV Bukoba capsized off the coast of Mwanza and 894 passengers died.

• On May 08, 2005 the MV Kabalega and MV Kaawa crashed head-on. Kaawa was able to return to the harbour, while Kabalega sank.

• On October 10, 2014 the MV Victoria had an engine malfunction in the middle of its route to Mwanza from Bukoba

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