Marine Police, UPDF sighted without life jackets as ill-fated boat is pulled out of water

TRAGEDY | A joint team of Uganda Police and UPDF maritime units moved to pull out of the water the wreckage of the ill-fated boat that capsized at the weekend.

Police said pulling the wreckage of the boat in which 31 people have been confirmed dead and scores remain missing will help marine units establish if there are bodies trapped inside or under the vessel.

However, in a rather deep irony given the tragedy that many say would have had fewer casualties if all the 100-plus on board worn life jackets, Police and UPDF marine officers were seen without the same.

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In one of the pictures of the operation to retrieve the wreckage of the boat, released by Police, officers are seen in a boat without life jackets on.

The life jackets available are actually in the boat.

The pictures, published on Police social media handles, saw many question why marine units were not wearing life jackets despite having them.

Perhaps they trust in their experience on and under the water, so life jackets don’t mean much, but the message they are sending to the public is what stands out.

The boat carrying revellers left Port Bell in Luzira at around 6pm and headed for Mutola Beach in Mukono but capsized around Mpatta Sub-County about 400 metres away from the shores.

Prince David Wasajja, a brother of Kabaka Ronald Mutebi, singer Iryn Namubiru, and singer cum businessman Hope Mukasa were among the 29 Police said it had rescued.

It is feared more than 50 missing persons that took the ill-fated boat are still trapped under water.

Among the dead include businessman Michael Bisase, aka Templar, and his wife Sheila. The couple are the proprietors of the vessel that is often hired for a cruise on the lake by revellers seeking to go to an island and back.

Boat cruises have been a trend on the rise in Kampala with revellers often hiring vessels and travelling to an island where they spend time before returning back to the mainland.

In some instance, proprietors of vessels run the cruise as a fully-fledged business, often organising such events for revellers to take part in with themes such as all-white cruise, among others.

The boat is said to have been overloaded, with President Museveni observing in a statement Sunday that it had the capacity to carry only 50 passengers but the numbers on board were twice that.

Museveni also said the boat was “unregistered, unlicensed and maybe uninsured.”

Survivors accounts have since pointed to the fact that the revellers were making merry and drinking, which suggests most of them were drunk at the time of the boat capsized.

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