SAFE LAKE TRANSPORT DEMANDS FOR RESPONSIBLE OPERATORS
(Posted 09th December 2019)
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Lake transport in Uganda, be it on Lake Victoria, Lake Albert and other lakes like Kyoga and Edward, is often fraught with dangers, in part due to the sudden changes in weather and in part due to overloading of the regular lake long boats. Over the years have dozens of accidents happened at the cost of many lives.Such accidents in the past have brought a sharpish response from authorities which now demand that boats log in and log out when traveling from regular landing sites, provide life vests for passengers and observe the maximum loads permitted for each boat.
13 months ago did MV Templar – a leisure cruiser – capsize, leading to the drowning of over 30 people and a raft of added measures to make lake transport safer.
The more modern transport vessels have proved popular with travelers from both within Uganda and also from abroad, as tourists seem to feel safer on modern boats which are supposedly run on a more professional bases.
However, reports have reached overnight that one of those new vessels had run out of fuel in the middle of Lake Victoria, leading to SOS calls from frightened passengers as well as from the crew and prompting a rescue mission, when the boat’s operator sent a separate craft with fuel to link up with the stranded vessel.
The boat had left Kalangala in the afternoon as per the schedule below and from reports coming it just after 5 pm called for help after the engines has stopped, leaving the vessel adrift on the lake.
Thankfully was the rescue mission, i.e. the refueling successful and the passengers on board reached the Entebbe pier safely though shaken up by the experience.
It is understood that the marine police has opened a file and those responsible for the incident have been summoned to record statements.
Given the upcoming festive season, when trips to the Ssese Islands are in high demand, is it absolutely essential that operational standards are improved to ensure safe operations and avoid any repeat of yesterday’s situation.