Capsized Boat was Operating Illegally – Marine Operators Top story

1888 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The MV K Palm owned by Templar Bissase Kisosonkole capsized with more than 100 people on board, on a journey that started at Gaba Landing site, a suburb of Kampala to K-Palm beach, in Mpatta Sub County Mukono district. Only 26 people have so far been rescued by a joint team of Police and UPDF marine units.

Marine operators have indicated that the boat that capsized in Lake Victoria last night was operating illegally and in dangerous mechanical conditions.

The MV K Palm owned by Templar Bissase Kisosonkole capsized with more than 100 people on board, on a journey that started at Gaba Landing site, a suburb of Kampala to K-Palm beach, in Mpatta Sub County Mukono district. Only 26 people have so far been rescued by a joint team of Police and UPDF marine units.

Novat Mukajanga Baliremwa, a Marine Engineer says any boat carrying people on Lake Victoria must have buoyance and can remain on water until a rapid response is provided in case of danger. He says the vessel's make wasn't supposed to transport people and cargo; neither did it have echo sounders and radar to communicate to different Ports for help.
 
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According to the Maritime insurance act, all people moving on water should have safety gear including lifesaving jackets. The vessels transporting people and cargo are also expected to be seaworthy, with a certificate to that effect issued by the Ministry of works and transport. However, according to data in the Works Ministry, no marine vessel has been licensed by the Ministry to ply through the islands in Mukono district. 

But the Police Director of operations Asuman Mugenyi confirms that the operators did not have a running license.
 
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David Ssenyonjo, a marine operator who had been hired by the boat owners to man the vessel says he objected to the offer since the boat was in dangerous mechanical conditions.

"I was asked to be the captain but after looking at the state of the vessel, I refused. I asked them to repair the vessel before it can be operated on the lake," Ssenyonjo says.

MV K Palm has been operating on Lake Victoria for the past ten years. An eye witness at the landing site says, despite the vessel's condition, it was heavily loaded yet most of the people didn't have lifesaving jackets as required by the maritime laws.
 
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Residents and workers at the landing site told URN that the same boat has on several occasions transported revelers to the distant shores for island hoping.  Another fisherman at Gaba landing site says that the capsized boat has always been stationed adjacent to the landing site. He says that its operations had been halted for several months before the boat owners reinvented activities ahead of Christmas festivities.

Some fishermen at the landing site blame the accident on marine police whom they accuse of failing to implement marine laws. Amos Kasekende, a fisherman, shares that usually the marine police inspect all vessels to ensure safety and security.

However, in this particular case, Kasekende says, no officer inspected the vessel despite being available as revelers embarked on their journey.
 
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The boat, at the time of the accident, could no longer dock at any nearby landing site. The operators would only throw an anchor into the lake and people are evacuated from it using smaller boats to a nearby docking pier.

In September after the capsizing of MV Nyerere, a Tanzanian marine vessel, the deputy director fire and safety in the Uganda Police told the media that Marine Police intensified security operations on all Marine Vessels on Lake Victoria. 227 people died while 41 people were rescued by the Tanzanian Marine operators from the vessel that was travelling from Bugorola to Bwisya islands.