Log in
Free: The Observer Mobile App - Exclusive Content and Services

Boat owner Bisase killed passengers – minister Azuba

Police excavator trying to pull the wreckage of the sunken boat

Police excavator trying to pull the wreckage of the sunken boat

The death of 32 people in a capsized boat at the weekend was caused by the boat owners, Templar Bisase and his wife Sheila, the minister of Works and Transport, Monica Azuba Ntege, said in a terse statement yesterday, four days after the boat sunk.

“A police officer intercepted and ordered the vessel not to make its voyage because the officer was suspicious of the vessel’s seaworthiness but the vessel owner and some revellers threatened to throw the officer in the water for interrupting their joy ride. Revellers insisted on sailing in the ‘suspected’ vessel. The vessel, therefore, took off,” Ntege’s statement reads in part.

The full statement

Rt. Hon. Speaker, on behalf of the Government of the Republic of Uganda and my Ministry, I take this opportunity to convey our sincere condolences to the bereaved families and regret the deaths of our citizens. We pray that the almighty comforts the families of the bereaved.

On Saturday 24th November, 2018, a passenger boat sank off Mutima beach, about 12 nautical miles from Ggaba beach on Lake Victoria. The accident involved a private cruise boat allegedly owned by Templar Bisase and his wife, which was unregistered, unlicensed and may have been uninsured.

Apparently, the vessel was previously a trawler which was converted into a passenger vessel without requisite approvals by the line ministry and was operating cruise voyages mainly on weekends between various private beaches in Mukono.

According to Police reports, the vessel was destined for KK Palm Beach in Mukono District having started its voyage at around 16:30hrs contrary to the time it had been planned to leave of 12:00pm from KK Beach, Ggaba in Makindye Division. This delay was caused by the Captain who refused to set sail because he had disagreed with the owner of the ship about its condition which led the owner to engage a skipper to navigate the ship.

A police officer intercepted and ordered the vessel not to make its voyage because the officer was suspicious of the vessel’s seaworthiness but the vessel owner and some revellers threatened to throw the officer in the water for interrupting their joy ride. Revellers insisted on sailing in the ‘suspected’ vessel. The vessel therefore took off.

Rt. Hon Speaker, it should be emphasized that there is need for citizens of Uganda to respect the Government agencies especially the Uganda Police Forces whose duty is to keep Law and Order in our society.

It has come out that on realizing the vessel had developed defects and could not make it to the planned destination, the skipper advised the owner of the vessel that they should dock it at the nearest landing to enable passengers to disembark safely and also save the vessel from sinking but, the owner refused and took over navigation of the vessel to attempt to beach i.e. landing in the sand at Mutima Beach.

The accident was caused by no-adherence to the laws governing water transport and wilful defiance against lawful orders by both the vessel and some travellers.

Rt. Hon Speaker, the water transport subsector is governed by the following legal instruments;

i. The Maritime (fees) Regulations 2010

ii. The Lake Victoria Transport Act 2007

iii. Inland water Transport (Control) Act 1938

iv. The Rivers Act 1907

v. The Ferries Act 1905

vi. The vessel Registration Act 1904

These laws have sufficient provisions that would have prevented this accident from happening if they had been adhered to.

A local fishing boat passed by and advised them that the vessel was taking in water, some of the revellers listened and disembarked to the small boat for their safety, but the rest of the revellers proceeded with the journey towards Mutima beach.

Shortly after some revellers disembarked into the small fishing boat, the vessel rapidly started sinking. As the vessel was sinking, a local boat operator phoned other operators in Ggaba informing them of the sinking vessel and also proceeded to help evacuate passengers. Unfortunately, his vessel was overwhelmed by the passengers attempting to embark and it also sunk killing the boat operator and some of the passengers.

The operators at Ggaba alerted the Ministry of Works and Transport Officials, who informed the Uganda Police Force (UPF), Uganda Peoples Defense Force (UPDF) and private vessel owners to head to the site of incident.

The number of persons on board the vessel at the time of the incident was not known as there was no passenger manifest.

By 26/11/2018, 32 bodies including the proprietor and his spouse were recovered as listed below:

1. Mr. Isaac Kayondo (RIP)

2. Mr. Anold Mubale (RIP)

3. Mr. Templar Bisase (RIP)

4. Mr. John Bosco Nyanzi (RIP)

5. Mr. Bilditon Asaba (RIP)

6. Mrs. Sheila Bisase (RIP)

7. Mr. Bosco Owecho (RIP)

8. Mr. Moses Muyenga (RIP)

9. Mr. George William Ssenyendo (RIP)

10. Ms. Diane Kanyumuzi (RIP)

11. Ms. Ritah Namale (RIP)

12. Mr. Yoweri Musumba (RIP)

13. Ms.Sheila Gashishiri (RIP)

14. Ms. Sheila Nankunda Kainamura (RIP)

15. Mr. Tony Kawuki (RIP)

16. Ms. Rehema Ashaba (RIP)

17. Ms. Hajar Nagadya (RIP)

18. Mr. Paul Nsobya (RIP)

19. Ms. Sheila Mponimpa (RIP)

20. Ms. Susan Ndyamuhabwa (RIP)

21. Ms. Winnie Kobusigye (RIP)

22. Ms. Esther Namutebi (RIP)

23. Ms. Zahra Diyani (RIP)

24. Mr. Paul Semakula (RIP)

25. Mr. Fred Mawanda (RIP)

26. Ms. Peace Busingye Kainamura (RIP)

27. Ms. Justine Namayanja (RIP)

28. Mr. Denis Wamala (RIP)

29. Mr. Brian Ndoori (RIP)

30. Mr. Michael Kaddu (RIP)

31. Mr. Michael Kaweesi (RIP)

32. Mr. Fred Mawanda (RIP)

Some 26 people were rescued and some of these include the following:

1. Ms. Irene Namubiru

2. Prince David Wasajja

3. Ms. Shamillah Nsereko

4. Mr. Francis Senkeezi

5. Mr. John Fred Kiyimba also known as Freeman

6. Mr. Hope Mukasa

7. Mrs. Justine Tashobya Nsubuga and her Sister

8. Mr. Edward Katerega

9. Ms. Rebecca Nasuna

10. Mr. Byabashija

11. Mr. Farouq Muzimba

12. Mr. Andrew Luziba

13. Mr. Joseph Kirimenzi

14. Mr. Mark Sseremba

15. Mr. Brian Jjuko

16. Mr. Twesigye

It is yet to be established how many people are still unaccounted for as the Search for casualties still continues. Rt. Hon Speaker, I wish to recognize the On-scene coordinators (those who arrived at scene of incident first on the night of 24/11/2018) and then sent out SOS to other relevant authorities. These include;

i. Mr. John Owetcho (RIP) who attempted to rescue people but ended up losing his life in the operation

ii. Local community boat operators from Ggaba, Portbell and Mukono landing sites

iii. Private sector

iv. Uganda Police Forces (UPF)

v. Uganda Peoples Defence Forces(UPDF Marines)

vi. Ministry of Works and Transport staff

vii. Ambulance service providers

viii. Aeronautic support services of Police

ix. Mulago Hospital (Accident and Emergency Unit)

According to preliminary Investigations, it is indicated that there was an increasing water level in the lower compartments of the vessel. This signifies that the vessel was leaking with water entering the bilge, which is the lowest compartment of the vessel. The bilge should be kept dry at all times by use of bilge pumps.

Detailed casualty investigations are on-going to ascertain the actual cause of the incident.


In addition to the National Transport and Logistics Policy currently being implemented, there are other stakeholders who have roles they play in the water transport subsector and these include:

1) Ministry of Works and Transport

i. Initiate, formulate and develop national Policies, laws, plans and programs for safe and efficient water transport infrastructure and services

ii. Inspection, Registration and licensing of all marine vessels

iii. Monitoring and evaluation of performance of transport services

2) Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry and Fisheries

i. Issues fishing licenses and monitor fishermen operations

3) Uganda Police Forces

i. Enforces the laws the Laws and Regulations

4) Uganda Peoples Defense Forces

i. Providing security on water bodies

ii. Provide maritime search and rescue capabilities

5) Private sector

i. Investment in water transport

In a bid to reduce water transport accidents in Uganda, my ministry is currently undertaking the following measures;

Strengthening Inspection, Registration and Licensing of all marine vessels

Following the establishment of the Maritime Administration, the ministry will strengthen the inspection, registration and licensing in collaboration with security organs and communities through collaborative empowerment.

Review and update of legal framework

The Inland Water Transport Bill 2018 is due for submission to Cabinet for approval. At an appropriate time, it will be presented to Parliament. The Bill seeks to strength water transport safety management; streamline and better regulate water transport safety and strengthen enforcement.

Strengthening Surveys and Inspection

The Ministry is working with Classification Societies to strengthen surveys on all the conventional vessels and issue International Safety certificates on behalf of the Country.

Training boat operators

In addition to maritime training services offered by regional maritime training institutes like Dar es Salaam Maritime Training Institute in Tanzania and Bandari Maritime College in Kenya, my Ministry is preparing to establish maritime training centers at Busitema University, Fisheries Training Institute and support the private sector in the training of boat operators in basic skills like crowd management, swimming, use of Life Saving Appliances and Personal Survival Techniques. The Ministry will further

Monitoring and Regulation of vessel operations

i. My ministry is strengthening with strict guidelines the registration of passengers embarking and disembark

ii. The Ministry in addition is developing infrastructure at landing sites, beaches and marinas for safe embarkation and disembarkation of passengers.

Water Transport Safety Sensitization

The Ministry will further strengthen sensitizing of boat owners, operators, passengers and local communities about water transport safety using all available media together with the Security Agencies.

Multinational Lake Victoria Maritime Communication and Transport Project

The Government has received a loan for the Multinational Lake Victoria Maritime and Communication Transport Project from the African Development Bank to, among other things;

i. Construct Search and Rescue Centers.

ii. Improve Maritime Communication

iii. Ensure Weather Alert dissemination in collaboration with the Meteorological Authority

iv. Ensure Electronic tagging of all operational vessels

v. Training and regular drills for Search and Rescue preparedness

vi. Address issues of counterfeit Life Saving Appliances through a system with the Uganda Bureau of Standards to accredit genuine products.

vii. Develop synergies with the Aeronautical sector in Search and Rescue and prepare a National Aeronautical Search and Rescue Plan

Other areas of interventions and collaboration include;

International Maritime Organization (IMO) Uganda is a member of the IMO.

The Government is committed to improving water transport safety as enshrined in IMO Conventions and Protocols and the Cabinet has recentlyapproved the Accession to IMO Conventions aimed at improving water safety in Uganda. These include;

i. The International Convention for Safety of Lives at Sea (SOLAS 74)

ii. The International Convention for Prevention of Pollution from Ships as modified by the Protocol of 1978 relating thereto and by the Protocol of 1997 (MARPOL 88’)

iii. The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Seafarers as amended, including the 1995 and 2010 Manila Conventions (STCW)

iv. The International Convention on Standards of Training, Certification and Watch keeping for Fishing Vessel Personnel 1995 (STCW-F)

v. The International Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea 1972, (COLREG 72’)

vi. The International Convention on Facilitation of International Maritime Traffic, 1965 (FAL 65’)

vii. International Convention on Load Lines 1966, (LL 66’)

viii. International Convention on Maritime Search and Rescue, 1979 (SAR 79’)

Rt. Hon Speaker, all the above mentioned conventions contain international Regulations governing water bodies and my Ministry through Accession to them and preparing a new Inland Water Transport Legislation, will have legal framework to implement them on our water bodies.

Uganda is also in the process to ratify the African Maritime Transport Charter which aims at enhancing collaboration on maritime affairs on the African Continent.


Rt. Hon Speaker, this accident could have been avoided if the owners and passengers had complied with the prevailing legislation and heeded to the lawful orders issued by the police officer. I would also like to emphasize that:

i. That the general public should always take personal responsibility for their safety by ensuring use of appropriate lifesaving appliances and avoiding vessels without statutory certifications like operator licenses;

ii. Boat owners/operators must abide to prevailing laws and regulations governing water transport safety;

iii. Government will henceforth take stringent measures towards anyone operating any boat without statutory certification;

iv. Security agencies have been ordered to arrest anyone found operating any vessel without operator licenses and lifesaving appliances;

v. Government henceforth warns the general public to desist from obstructing security agencies from performing their lawful duties.


+4 #11 gwok 2018-11-29 00:55
Quoting Wooden K.:
Oh Uganda , here we go again !

All the world saw civilians trying to pull out a 25 ton boat from the water- using borrowed chines ropes.

We may think we are modern because we have built a shinny bridge in Jinja , and a motorway from and to Entebbe. But we are basically still primitive and clueless.

Mbu , it this man called Brian White who was in charge of organzing and paying this human power .

We saw the police walking by aimlessly as the ropes broke .
Mission failed !

QUESTION ; where are the men and women who are paid to do these sort of things ? WHY , WHY , and why should it be Kusasira , Brian White to do these things ? ....

Very good questions, Sir. But, please do not expect any answers from the regime.

I add one: why are so many of these things happening NOW compared to during Obotes's regimes?
Report to administrator
+3 #12 Dennis Opio 2018-11-29 11:12
Quoting the commenter:
So the part where the police officer issued an order for the vessel to go to the nearest docking station and he was instead threatened doesn’t count?

Guys, I understand that you HATE the incumbent, but don’t let your emotions cloud your judgement. Clearly, authorized govt personnel did what they were supposed to but the owners of the vessel and their customers (like typical Ugandans) thought they knew better.

They never did what they were supposed to do. These security fellows have never failed to stop such and you know...Tell us, if it was a political rally or news that Bobi Wine was in the area, they would have moved into action at blink of an eye and dispersed every body.

How come they do "their best" in such situations and failed to do their best to stop these drunk and clever Ugandans from boarding the vessel? Your urgent or that of the government does not add up!!!
Report to administrator
+3 #13 Miki 2018-11-29 11:32
Another bunch of lies, always blaming the powerless victim and much more unpleasant staff from this 'yellow-corruption' stained regime and the insensitive cabal who people it.

This is their familiar reflex now. They used to do it impulsively. Their responses have moved on to reflexes and wild whiplashing having grown numb from the incompetence and the thieving ways.

The police can stop and prevent people from walking as was the case during the so-called walk to work but cannot stop and prevent people from doing an evidently dangerous thing like boarding a clearly dangerous vessel that would later kill many of them?

The owners of the boat did not kill the people. The corruption and the incompetence of this government did as happens in many ways everyday.
Report to administrator
+1 #14 kabayekka 2018-11-29 15:54
Indeed it helps the nation's morale if such detailed reports of police professionalism come out every time lives of Uganda citizens are constantly lost any how!
Report to administrator
0 #15 Akot 2018-11-30 18:43
Well, Ugandans are deep with Museveni & don't realise they MUST bring change in order to be able to manage affaires, be responsible, answerable!

Akot knows Ugandans are all alone with Museveni, no outsider will come in to help nor blame Museveni as it's Ugandans maintaining the tribalistic system!

So, the best thing for Ugandans to do now is just go along, stop complaining as they deny it's change of leadership/bringing down the tribalistic system & putting in place a people's government, that is needed!

How will just blaming Museveni help stop such catastrophes?

How is Akot calling Ugandans to UNITY by bringing down the tribalistic system, a bad thing as no
outsider will help Ugandans as long as they are alright with the tribalistic system ensuring Museveni's life time post?

Then what after Museveni is no more?
Report to administrator
0 #16 Akot 2018-11-30 19:00
rubangakene, thanks!

Kenyans didn't just blame while working in peace to keep a leader in office, but they came out to ensure they are listened to!

Ugandans want the world to help/sympathise with them for being tribalists, but this will never happen; no outsider will blame Museveni for ruling Ugandans just the way they want!

Actually, Museveni is the best peace keeper Uganda has ever had, all he has to do now is dissolve posts of tribal leaders & just be a dictator president & not chief tribal leader any more!
Report to administrator
0 #17 Akot 2018-11-30 19:16
Miki, agreed!

This is why tribal leaders MUST stand down & Ugandans UNITE to throw Museveni out, then go for the kind of governance they want!

The tribalistic system Museveni cleaverly put in place MUST be brought down, then when UNITY throws him out, our people will go for independent tribal states.

Without common opposition leader, there will never be Reformation of the Republic nor chance to Federal States!

Are Ugandans not yet tired of Museveni, the root cause of all these tragedies, division, oppression, enslavement...?

Do Ugandans want Museveni to be the one to Reform the Republic of Uganda?
Report to administrator

Comments are now closed for this entry