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.
STAKEHOLDERS AND THEIR ROLES IN WATER TRANSPORT
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.