By URN(The Daily Monitor)
Members of parliament representing Island districts want government to amend the law governing maritime in the country.
The call came a few hours after a boat transporting more than 100 revellers from Gaba landing site in Kampala to Mpatta in Mukono District capsized in Lake Victoria killing dozens.
At least 31 bodies have since been recovered, 26 rescued while many others are still missing. The existing maritime transport law was enacted in December 1905 while the traffic, road and safety act was enacted in 1998.
Uganda operates under the standards by the Marine safety committee of the International Maritime Organization, which are rarely enforced. Majority of transporters on Ugandan waters use unlicensed canoes and boats to ferry people and cargo.
Ms Carol Nanyondo, the Kyamuswa County MP, said whereas the Marine Insurance Act was enacted in 2002, it doesn’t affect people with canoes yet they are mostly used on Lake Victoria.
Nanyondo wants the laws governing maritime to be amended to enact stringent measures that would help improve safety and security of vessels operating on different Islands.
“We have to improve a number things. Laws are like people; they grow old. They should consult some of us (islands) because we perhaps know more than our others counterparts. We have to amend it in all ways,” she said.
Apparently, the main vessels that ply to the outlying islands in Kalangala and Buvuma including MV Kalangala don’t have rescue boats. The rescue boat for MV Kalangala, according to Amon Ndangizi, a Marine Engineer under Ministry of Works is dilapidated and dysfunctional.
Last week, Ministry of Works indicated that MV Kalangala that plies the Entebbe-Kalangala route overloads and directed that it should only carry 100 passengers at a time.
The Vessel has been carrying up to 320 passengers to and from the island district. Tony Kavuma Bafirawala, the Engineer in charge of the Vessel, said this illegal and could force the vessel to capsize.
Ms Nanyondo also wants government to purchase vessels for all islands to avoid accidents that occur when people use canoes and go unnoticed.
“For instance Kalangala has only one vessel transporting hundreds of passengers. It’s not enough. The vessel is too small and overloads. We are likely to experience another boat accident if nothing is done,” she added.
Buvuma County MP, Robert Ndugwa Migadde said the ever increasing traffic on the Kiyindi – Buvuma route warrants government to purchase a better vessel for his constituents.
He said the one operating along the route is not only dilapidated but also overloads because of the large number of travellers’.
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