COMMENTARY | NELLY SALVATORE
My first encounter with this very boat: June 24, 2016.
On that day, me and my friends Cynthia Kukunda and Edinah Eliana Ahurira found ourselves part of a boat cruise dubbed “corporate boat cruise”. Indeed, it was corporate for Uganda social life standards.
Singles were paying 250k whereas couples were paying 450k. That’s enough money to expect some excellent services.
So that very day, set off time was around 2pm from Entebbe to Ssese Islands where we were supposed to at least stay for two days at the island.
As you have seen many posters of the boat cruises in Uganda they normally design very beautiful posters with luxury boats that look like a sister to Titanic with Caribbean women rocking sexiest bikinis.
When you see that poster you start imagining the unthinkable and your heart can’t stop beating until you have gotten the right company and the money to buy the ticket. You have to convince at least two or three or more friends to join you.
Some people on boat cruise are first timers whereas others are like seniors in this. They have almost been on each and every boat cruise organised on Lake Victoria. For my case it was my first time and I could not wait to be part of it.
So we waited for the boat but it could not arrive in time until we spotted it some metres away. Whereas we were expecting a Titanic-like cruiser, this blue “scrappy boat” came. We spotted this boat coming to dock but it took it like 2hrs to dock. It was as slow as a tortoise for some reasons.
At around 7:30pm, we started boarding. Remember, we were supposed to set off at 2pm. We were at least 80-plus people on this boat. I don’t remember wearing a life jacket but life jackets are never enough on these boats.
The organiser had promised us VIP treatment on the boat but this wasn’t the case. The only thing he provided was Club Twist! Who drinks that ? Food was so fake and shitty too. I remember getting some roasted offal (animal intestines) filled with dung.
I threw it in water for fish to enjoy!
The party was fun for like only 2hrs. People were tired already, drunk and sleepy. It was cold and a lot if insects were invading the boat.
This boat had very small engines. I was told it was supposed to have at least more than one. so one died completely. We were now using one engine. Then later I was informed that the engine It was using was very small and not suitable for such a heavy boat.
So for some reason when the waves were good enough to push the boat. This spare engine would be switched off intentionally to reserve it for extra force whenever it’s needed and to spare some fuel since we had already sailed for more than 7hrs. For some good hours we were just being blown by wind and just floating. Had the waves become so bad we’d have sunk.
This boat was never fit to sail, more over, for such a long distance.
I fell asleep and woke up at around 6am we were being told that we are now docking. Imagine spending over 10hrs on water! For a distance of 4hrs.
We were supposed to enjoy the cruise and return on it after two days but we were lucky to be told that the boat had mechanical issues and we should instead use MV Kalangala and that’s what we used on our way back. We paid our transport individually and returned safe.
Here’s the thing; [Michael Bisase] Templar’s boat could have been the cheapest option for boat cruise organizers but still the most dangerous. Boat cruise organisers are always trying to minimize the costs hence opting for risky options.
In my opinion it was just a matter of time for this scrappy boat to sink.
Unfortunately, it sunk with innocent souls who never knew anything about It’s poor state. I’m very sure that Templar and the organizers knew about the risk but Instead decided to eat the money and take the risk.
I entirely blame this tragedy on the boat owner. If you find sense in this hit like button, share and we raise awareness about the reality of boat cruises in Uganda. If u want to check the authenticity of my story ask Edna and Cynthia tagged here .
May the soul of the deceased rest in eternal peace.
Editor: Templar and his wife Sheila both perished in the boat accident.
This article was original published on the writer’s Facebook page.