Boat Accident: Search Enters Day Three, 32 Bodies Recovered

Written by: 
Sydona Nazze & Lydia Sanyu Nakkazi


Operations resume this morning as the army and police marines search for victims of the boat accident on Lake Victoria on Saturday that has so far claimed 32 lives.

More than 100 people, some sources say up to 150, were aboard a private boat when it capsized on the evening of November 24 at about 7pm. The boat was carrying revelers from KK Beach in Ggaba, Kampala to Mutima Beach in Mpatta Sub County, Mukono district when it capsized. The incident happened a short distance from the shore off Mutima Mutola Island in Mpatta sub county Mukono District.

Twenty-six people survived the accident and those in critical condition were taken to hospital. Those who survived include Prince David Wasajja, a brother to Kabaka Ronald Muwenda Mutebi.

By the time the operations were halted on Sunday night due to darkness, at least 32 bodies had been recovered from the lake. Among the dead are businessman Templar Bissase and his wife, the owners of the ill-fated boat. Sheila Gashishiri Mbonimpa, a 37-year-old alumnus of the Department of Journalism and Communication, is also among the dead.

President Yoweri Museveni issued a statement on Sunday expressing his condolences to the families of the deceased.

"On behalf of all Ugandans, I send condolences to the families of the people who died in the accident on Lake Victoria last evening," reads the Statement in part

The president quoted what he called preliminary information from the security services indicating that the vessel in which people died was “a private unregistered, unlicensed and may be uninsured boat.”

"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," said the president.

According to the president, suspicions are high that the boat was overloaded, noting that “whereas it had capacity for 50 people only it had about 120 passengers on board.”

Those who survived talked of a party mood with dancing and drinking, something that could have prevented the victims from seeing imminent danger. President Museveni alludes to this in his 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," he said.

He thanked the police and the UPDF personnel who got information from the fishermen, rushed in and rescued 26 people.

Museveni shared his own experiences when he used boats to cross the lake and cautioned travelers to be careful. "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 dangers to cross when you are not fully prepared; overloading, no standby engines, life jackets, reliable navigation etc etc. Let everybody take the warning from this tragedy."

Transport Minister Aggrey Bagiire told NTV Fourth Estate that people were alerted about the mechanical condition of the boat but since majority of them were drunk, they couldn't listen to the warnings. He said the boat was in a questionable state and it was forbidden to transport the people on water since it lacked a license but its captain forcefully started the engine and left the three policemen who were to accompany the passengers on their journey.

"The security of the area advised the people to use another boat since Caribbean Feast boat was in poor mechanical condition and besides after repair it was not tested," explained Bagiire.

A survivor was quoted by NTV as saying: “The boat itself had a problem. The engine would go off by itself and it also had a hole through which water was entering. When we spoke out, they told us the boat will be stable.”