DISASTER STRIKES ON LAKE TANGANYIKA
(Posted 28th September 2013)
A group of 15 children, who had travelled earlier in the week on Lake Tanganyika to participate in an immunization campaign, were among the victims when their returning boat was caught up in a storm and capsized.
Lake boats, as often seen on Uganda’s lakes too, are often overloaded and carry little in terms of safety equipment like offering life vests to passengers.
Government officials confirmed the incident and blamed the boat’s master for sailing into the eye of a developing storm. Arrest warrants have been issued, also for the owner of the boat, to bring those responsible to justice.
Tanzania has been suffering a wave of maritime disasters, on Lake Victoria and in the Indian Ocean where in particular the route between Unguja and Pemba, the two main Zanzibari islands, was at a certain stage notorious for vessels going down.
While efforts have been made to improve the regulatory and supervisory regimes for ocean going vessels, smaller lake boats on Victoria and Tanganyika are more difficult to regulate and supervise due to the often remote locations from where they operate. Condolences are expressed to the families and friends of those lost in this accident and it is hoped that well wishers and NGO’s dealing with maritime safety can come to the assistance of Tanzanians by providing life vests and other equipment like emergency beacons to improve water based transportation and make it safer.