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Enforcement of Maritime Laws Fails, a Year After MV Templar Accident

Alex Mugoya, a vessel captain with Kalangala Infrastructure Service Maritime Department suggests that the technology used by vessels should be merged with modern GPS technology and echo sounders to help captains navigate the lake with knowledge of items beneath while measuring the distance and depth of the lake.
UPDF and Police marines retrieving MV Templar in 2018

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The planned implementation of maritime laws and requirements for Marine Vessels transporting goods and cargo on Ugandan water bodies hangs in balance, one year after the infamous MV Templar accident.    

MV Templar, a Marine Vessel plying from Gaba in Kampala to K-Palm beach, a recreation centre in Mukono district, capsized on November 24, 2018, with close to 100 revellers on board. About 26 people drowned to death.   

The government later indicated that the marine vessel was in dangerous mechanical condition and did not have requisite requirements for transporting people and cargo. The requirements include a sea worthy certificate, marine operators and navigation charts. 

In the aftermath, the government embarked on upgrading and updating the categories of Marine Vessels on the Lake to ensure that they are all seaworthy. It also issued guidelines for transporting people on the water, tasking vessel operators to guarantee the availability of lifesaving jackets, buoys and other coastguard safety equipment.   

The government also set out to map all dangerous spots on the lake to ensure that Marine Vessels do not collide with objects in the water. Also, Navigation Charts would be updated for easy navigation. But the plan that was supposed to take immediate effect, has not been initiated yet. 

Jonah Mumbya, the Maritime Administration safety officer said that plan would take up to three years, until 2021 to be complete.  He is however optimistic that the exercise would help in promoting good navigation of the vessels.     

//Cue in; “We have some… 

Cue out… to install these.”// 

The government embarked on the baseline survey, registering vessels and the landing sites on which they operate.  But only a handful of marine vessels were inspected and awarded sea worthy certificates after the baseline survey, according to George Muhenda Rukara, the Commissioner Maritime Administration.

Meanwhile, Alex Mugoya, a vessel captain with Kalangala Infrastructure Service Maritime Department suggests that the technology used by vessels should be merged with modern GPS technology and echo sounders to help captains navigate the lake with knowledge of items beneath while measuring the distance and depth of the lake.

Currently, most of the large marine vessels that transport cargo on rail wagons from Port Bell to Kisumu and Mwanza use magnetic fields and Navigation charts, which are reported to be archaic. Mugoya says that modern technology can easily detect dangerous spots and create new navigation routes.   

//Cue in; “Before, you can… 

Cue out… the echo radar.”//   

Large Marine Vessel operators like MV Kalangala and MV Kaawa also demand that government also constructs Light houses on the water to clearly mark spots beyond which are dangerous for large marine vessels to ply. 

Kyamuswa county chairperson Charles Kavuma says currently, the country is bound to lose more people in water accidents since the implementation of vital regulations was dropped. 

//Cue; “Tuzze tukole amateeka… 

Cue out… Kintu kifaanana bwekityo.”//

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