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Ferry disaster turns focus on Lake Victoria safety


The East African Community bloc has pledged to improve navigation safety and rescue on the region’s largest fresh water mass.

This comes after the sinking of a Ferry in Tanzanian waters highlighted the risks for the thousands of people living on the shores and islands of the lake.

Passengers are often forced to use overcrowded or poorly maintained boats on a daily basis in an area where few can swim.

“We don’t overload because we have no movement of so many people. In Tanzania, I think it was a market day so they got so many people and the vessel was also not modified in such a way that it can survive with many people. I think they overloaded it,” said Eric Charles ferry captain of MV Mbita III.

“I am not too worried about overloading of the ship, but the question is the maintenance of the ship,” said fisherman Peter Ochyeng.

The Tanzania ferry, MV Nyerere, was carrying more than three times the amount of passengers recommended, and capsized just metres from its final destination, the island of Ukara. However,those who died were unable to swim to safety.

The tragedy also shone the spotlight on the Lake Victoria Basin Commission to improve safety on the lake. The project is to be implemented by Kenya, Uganda and Tanzania over four years.

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