By Henry Nsubuga
Marine Police in Mukono district have retrieved six bodies from Lake Victoria after more than that number drowned on Saturday when their boat capsized.
The officer in charge of Katosi police station, Fred Ahimbisibwe, said that a Gaba-bound boat carrying over 30 people capsized on the lake. It was from Zingoola landing site in Koome sub-county, Mukono district.
Police deputy spokesperson, Polly Namaye, said that the Marine Police managed to rescue 17 people.
According to Namaye, the boat was carrying over 30 people with their cargo from Bulago island, Zingora and Koome Island in Mukono District.
However, one of the survivors, Zaituni Namuwonge, said that the boat was overloaded with over 40 passengers, charcoal and timber.
Police identified the dead and retrieved as Sulaiman Ikomba a police officer attached to Polongo Police post in Nwoya district, his three-year-old daughter Hudayiya Nakiranda, Christine Nantume, a pregnant woman who was heading to a hospital in Kampala to give birth and Richard Kayondo, a teacher at Nanyonyi Church of Uganda Primary School in Koome sub-county.
Namuwonge who is a head teacher at Nanyonyi Nursery and Primary School at Koome Island lost her husband Ikomba and a daughter in the accident said that the boat capsized at around 9:00am following a strong wind.
“We were going to Kampala to pay a plot of land and pay a visit to my husband’s relatives. The boat captain overloaded it and we asked him to stop but he declined basing on the two engines it was using,” she said.
One of the survivors, Zaituni Namuwonge the head teacher of Nanyonyi Nursery and Primary School in Koome Island, lost her husband and three-year-old daughter in the accident. Photo by Henry Nsubuga
Namuwonge added that when the strong winds came during a heavy downpour, one of the engines stopped operating making the boat to capsize.
“The lucky people who survived just held themselves on to the charcoal bags before we were saved. We spent over 30 minutes on the lake minus any help,” she recalled.
Police got in touch with the doctor at Kojja Health Center IV, Robert Mutumba who made the postmortem report while at Kiziri landing site where the bodies were kept before handing them over to the relatives.
Koome sub-county chairman, Lawrence Kiyingi asked the lake users to stop overloading and with immediate effect start using life jackets.
Kiyingi also asked the government to work upon the issue of putting up a public means of transport in form of a ferry for the people of Koome saying the wooden boats regularly drown in the lake and many people have lost their lives following high winds on the waters.
“It is high time the government think about giving the people of Koome a ferry which will help in reducing the accidents on the lake which claim a good number of commuters,” said Kiyingi.
In March 2012, 21 fishermen and businessmen who were in boat from Ssenyi landing site in Buikwe district capsized in the lake between Muwama and Lyabaana Islands in Buvuma district.
Only two of the 21 people who were in the boat managed to survive by the help of the Marine Police.