Killer boat finally retrieved
- Written by URN & NICHOLAS BAMULANZEKI
The killer boat that capsized last Saturday, has finally been retrieved and anchored to the shores of Mutima beach in Mpaata sub-county in Mukono district.
The nameless boat, capsized just a few metres away from Mutima beach with an estimated 120 people on board. 33 bodies have so far been retrieved from the lake and 27 people rescued alive. Since Monday, the joint forces of local fishermen, police and army marines have been trying to retrieve the wreckage without success until today when Uganda Railways Corporation provided them some of their equipment including stronger cable wires.
The marines are now also trying to retrieve any remaining bodies that are said to have been trapped under the lake. The bodies are however said to be in a very terrible state and the marines said they will not retrieve them when the journalists and the locals are present at the scene.
However they said some of the bodies are disfigured and out of shape having spent six days under water. Meanwhile Mutima beach management has been reaping big from the situation, with their sales boosted by the large number of flocking the area to witness the operation. The management has been charging people Shs 2,000 as entrance fees.
Dozens of people have been flocking Mutima beach to witness the operation to retrieve the wreckage and bodies from the lake over the past five days. The operation involved officers from the marine police, UPDF, ministry of Works and Transport engineers, fishermen, journalists and the local community.
Denis Kyeyune, the manager Mutima beach, says they have been making money during weekdays since the accident occurred, which isn't the case during other times. He says they are mostly making money from selling food, drinks and accommodation to some of the people who come to witness the operation.
"I did that [charging for entrance] because I need to make repairs for damaged property at the beach. Ever since the tragedy, yes, we have had good business but also a lot of our property has been damaged. We only used to make some money here at Mutima beach on weekends." said Kyeyune.
People were charged between Shs 2000 and 2500 to gain access to the beach. According to Kyeyune, they decided to charge people so to generate money to rehabilitate the place after the operation. However this has not gone well with everybody. Joseph Kironde, a resident of Buzindere village in Mpatta said he came to the beach to witness the rescue operation but was surprised when he was charged entrance fees.
"We’re mourning for our dear ones and they are asking us to pay money. They are very insensitive." he said.
Paul Kajubi, one of those who went to Mutima beach to witness the operation, faults management for taking advantage of the tragedy to charge them.
"From yesterday they are charging Shs 2500 as entrance. I really don’t get the essence of charging people money."
Interestingly, according to NBS TV, the management of Mutima beach has now threatened to drag government to court for destruction of property and slowing down of their business during their operations.
The police should have cordoned off the area in the first instance to enable swift, efficient, safe and secure operation; a temporary tented and private area for close relatives to await news of their loved ones should be erected.
Besides that the individuals involved in the salvage operation should be congratulated for their effort under very difficult circumstances; this is how Ugandans should address every situation; in the "ujamaa spirit".