Nine people survive after passenger boat capsizes on Lake Victoria

Unknown number of passengers dead after boat capsizes on Lake Victoria
Ugandan Navy crews joined the recovery effort in 2018 after a boat carrying more than 90 people sank on Lake Victoria.

Kalangala, Uganda | URN | A passenger boat has capsized on Lake Victoria in Kalangala Islands with nine passengers onboard.

The ill-fated boat capsized on Wednesday 4, May 2022 night while ferrying passengers from Kasenyi landing site in Katabi town council, Wakiso district to Kisaba Island in Kalangala district.

Preliminary reports by fishermen indicate that boat could have broken down when fishing nets got stuck in its engine. Moses Musiitwa, a fisherman at Kasenyi landing site, says that the boat capsized between Lukuba and Misenyi Island after being hit by strong winds on Lake Victoria.

“The lake has since Saturday 30, April 2022 been experiencing unusual strong winds, which usually lead to large waves. This could have worsened the situation after the engine stopped because the boat could not float freely,” he said. 

The survivors, according to eyewitnesses, were saved by rescue teams comprised of marine police and military personnel, and the local fishermen in Kalangala who responded to the incident last night and today morning.

The survivors, who are largely traders, on Wednesday evening boarded the boat from Kasenyi to Kisaba Island, and according to the passenger manifest at Kasenyi landing site, the boat departed with 45 passengers and 3 crew members.

The majority of the passengers disembarked at Lukuba landing site in Kalangala while others hopped onto boda bodas cycles and headed for Kisaba landing site, having gotten scared of the strong winds blowing over the waters. As such only nine people proceeded with the boat to Kisaba landing site.

Dirisa Ssemanda, a boat operator at Kisaba says the boat capsized after its engine got entangled in fishing nets between Kasenyi and Lukuba which are located about 10 kilometers apart.

The entire trip from Kasenyi to Kisaba landing site in Kalangala is four hours, with the longest stretch being Kasenyi to Lukuba which is one of Kalangala’s main landing sites on Bugala Island.

Anastasios Lwanga, a fisherman at Kisaba landing site who was part of the local rescue team says when the boat got stuck after its engine failed, the survivors held themselves onto rocks protruding out of the lake.

Lwanga says when the boat engines failed, its operators tried to cut the entangling nets, but the strong winds blowing at the time forced it to collide with rocks.

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“They were lucky that there are visible stones in area, which the passengers could hold on to,” he says.  

He adds that the rescuers responded after waiting for the boat to arrive at Kisaba landing site in vain, prompting a search by fishermen, who later found the wrecked boat and some merchandise floating on the waters. Merchandise worth estimated to be worth Shs 60m is believed to have been lost during the accident.

The Uganda National Meteorology Authority (UNMA) weather forecasts indicate that there will be strong winds over Lake Victoria from April to July this year.

It should be recalled that in November 2018, President Yoweri Museveni ordered “the electronic registration and monitoring of all the boats so that we can know who is where on the lake and why” following a boat accident on Lake Victoria that left 31 people dead.