By Mariam Nalunkuuma
THE officer who was in-charge of the MV Kaawa ferry at the time of its collusion, has no qualification in marine training, Parliament heard yesterday.
Stephen Kaliisa, the third officer of MV Kaawa ship which collided with MV Kabalega recently, told the works parliamentary committee probing the cause of the accident that, â€œI was appointed a cadet in 1999 but I have never gone for professional marine training.â€
â€œAfter my Senior Six studies in Ibanda, I wanted to develop a career in marine services. I joined the Uganda Railways Corporation and in 1993, I was appointed a sailor and got on-job training to 1999. In March 2002, when the corporation was phasing out cadets, I was appointed third officer in-charge of MV Kaawa,â€ the timid Kaliisa told the legislators.
The Port Bell-bound MV Kabalega recently sunk in Lake Victoria after colliding with the MV Kaawa bound for the Tanzanian port of Mwanza.
The first officer, Samuel Kyabukulu, said Kaliisa was not qualified to steer the vessel.
The MV Kaawa ferry chief, Captain Albert Ocaya, said, â€œWhen I handed over the ship, I did not expect anything strange. I was posted from Kabalega to Kaawa two months ago and had only worked with Kaliisa who was under training for that short period.â€
â€œThere was poor communication between the officers of MV Kaawa and MV Kabalega. If Kaliisa had notified me about the trouble, the accident would have been averted,â€ Ocaya said.
The committee chaired by Nathan Byanyima asked Ocaya whether allegations that he was asleep were true. â€œI was not asleep. I was very alert because I even heard the bang of the two ships.â€
He said the navigation lights and one of the radars for steering were missing.
Kaliisa said, â€œWith the training I had, I was confident that by adjusting, I would pass Kabalega by use of the red light as we had earlier agreed.â€
â€œKaawa lacked the green light used for crossing but for a long time we used to cross without it.â€