President Yoweri Museveni has opened up for the first time on the fatal boat accident which claimed dozens of lives on L. Victoria last night, revealing some of the circumstances leading to its capsizing.
The president, quoting security forces who briefed him on the incident, said the boat that overloaded and the passengers indifferent about the warnings of imminent danger.
“It seems the boat was overloaded because whereas it had capacity for 50 people only, it had about 120 passengers on board,” Museveni said in a statement.
“The passengers also seemed to be partying with a lot of music. They might not have heard the emergency commands of the captain, who is still unaccounted for.”
According to some accounts from some of the survivors, passengers were warned more than once that the boat was damaged and taking in water, but many of them drunkenly ignored the advice.
President Museveni in the statement, revealed that the boat was “privately owned, unregistered, unlicensed and maybe uninsured.”
“The boat was owned by somebody called Templa Bissase or Bissaso and his wife, both of whom, apparently, perished in the accident. They were coming from a private beach and headed to another private beach in Mukono area,” the president said.
Unfortunate incidents like this, Museveni said, are the reason government recently ordered the electronic registration and monitoring of all the boats “so that we can know who is where on the lake and why.”
“The five times I crossed in small boats or canoes some of the lakes of East Africa (thrice Lake Victoria and two times Lake Tanganyika), I found them very dangerous to cross when you are not fully prepared; no overloading, standby engines, life jackets, reliable navigation etc etc. Let everybody take the warning from this tragedy.”
Museveni went on to call for prosecution of the people who were operating the ill-fated boat if they are still alive.
These he said will be charged with criminal negligence and manslaughter, “If they have not already been punished for their mistake by dying in the accident.”
Meanwhile cabinet earlier today commissioned an inter-ministerial commission, headed by Prime Minister Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to look into the incident.
The commission findings according to Deputy Prime Minister Gen Moses Ali, will be publicized as soon as they are ready.