By Fred Kiva
KAMPALA. Police is set to inspect all boats and water vessels on Uganda’s water bodies, in light of last month's boat tragedy on Lake Victoria in which 33 people died.
The boat carrying more than 100 revelers from KK beach in Ggaba to K-Palm beach in Mukono capsized near Mutima Beach.
Addressing journalists at the Central Police Station, Kampala on Monday, police spokesperson Emilian Kayima who also declared recovered properties of the victims, including money, said with intent to avoid similar accidents on water, the police marine department will do an impromptu check on all water vessels to ascertain their standards.
“The Uganda Police Force Marine Unit together with the Ministry of Works and Transport are in the process of carrying out massive operations to inspect all boats and vessels on our water bodies to ensure their worthiness to avoid endangering lives as it was recently,” Kayima said.
“They have already started with the life- saving equipment like jackets for passenger boats,” he added.
Reports and survivor accounts indicated that the ill-fated MV Templar was in a bad condition and had been grounded for over three months prior to the fateful day. The boat reportedly had to undergo repairs prior to taking off, thus delaying the trip.
Kayima said after inspection, boats and vessels found in bad condition would not be allowed to operate.
Meanwhile, Police declared property believed to belong to the accident victims. The items were recovered by the joint Police and UPDF marine operation to rescue survivors and search for the dead following the boat accident on November 24. Some of the items recovered include travel documents, 27 handbags, 9 chairs, a generator, a speaker, 7 mobile phones, 7 pairs of shoes, clothes and Shs500,000 “and some has already been claimed by the rightful owners.”
Strict Water Safety Guidelines
Kayima emphasized that the strict guidelines issued in 2015 regarding safety on water, especially at beaches are still in operation as the festive season fast approaches.
“The measures issued in 2015 still stand. These include among others; not allowing swimmers without professional guides and life savers in close proximity, no swimming beyond 6pm, no swimming while drunk and keeping security in the know for all activities of this nature,” Kayima said.