The Police yesterday went to the home of Prince David Wasajja and businessman Freeman Kiyimba to record statements from them. A source at the Police said all survivors of the boat cruise accident on Lake Victoria, that claimed lives over the weekend, will each record a statement with the Police, to aid in investigations.
“We shall record statements from the survivors, to ascertain the truth on what happened because most of the statements circulating are not from the people who were on board,” Kampala Metropolitan Police spokesperson, Luke Owoyesigyire, said.
“It is true that some detectives went to Kiyimba’s home to record a statement from him. We shall record statements at the convenience of those we are supposed receive information from,” Owoyesigyire said.
He explained that the move is intended to get first-hand information from the survivors. He
said, if there is need to make any arrests, the Police will make such arrests publicly. The ill-fated boat carrying an unspecified number of revellers had set off from KK Beach in Ggaba, Kampala, to KK Palm Beach in Mukono district, when it capsized at around 7:30pm. State minister for transport,
Aggrey Bagiire said: “As a ministry, we are disturbed by what happened. If the Police had gone to individual survivors to record statements, it’s okay.”
The minister said the statement he made on Sunday about individuals who harassed Police for trying to stop the revellers from using the boat because it had a mechanical problem was a blanket statement.
“We have evidence that some influential people on the boat barred the Police from doing their work before the vessel took off,” the minister said. He said the survivors were meant to remain at the scene, to give an
account of what had happened.
“The Police marine and army are confused because they do not know the exact number of revellers who were on the boat. Why did they have to run away, yet the boat was not theirs?” Bagiire asked.
Meanwhile, Pascal Kwesiga and Henry Nsubuga report that as the search operation for more bodies of the Saturday boat cruise disaster on Lake Victoria continues, the Police have said it is difficult to establish the number of people that perished in the tragedy because there is no record of passengers who were on board.
By yesterday afternoon, no bodies had been retrieved from the lake, although reports indicated that there could have been more than 100 people on board. Thirty two bodies were recovered from the lake by Sunday.
A total of 27 people were rescued by mainly civilians near Mutima Beach in Mpatta sub-county, Mukono
district. The vessel, which was packed with revellers, reportedly flipped at about 7:30pm, about 200 metres away from Mutima Beach. Some survivors’ accounts indicate that the coxswain diverted the vessel to Mutima Beach, after realising that its poor mechanical condition was deteriorating.
Acting Police spokesperson Zurah Ganyana said the force had deployed a team to KK Beach, to take statements from people who could have seen the boat setting off.
“We do not have information on the number of people who were on board. People were not registered before they boarded the boat. We will get some information when our officers return with statements,”
Ganyana said at the rescue command centre at Mutima Beach. The operators of the boats for transport on Uganda’s water bodies do not register passengers on board. It is only ferries that take names of passengers and their next of kin before they board.
Meanwhile, the Police and army marine officers continued to comb the lake in an attempt to find more bodies. The Police’s chopper hovered over the lake, to beef up the search, but no bodies were found yesterday. The Police divers said they had not found bodies in the flipped boat.
“We have even gone into the coxswain’s cabin, but we have not found any bodies,” a Police marine diver said.
For some time, the Police discussed other search options, including asking fishermen to use fishing nets to pull anything around the scene of the accident. But the Police dropped that option and contacted the works ministry for equipment to retrieve the boat.
“The divers have said they have not seen any bodies inside or the around the boat. We have asked the works ministry to give us equipment to retrieve the boat,” Asuman Mugenyi, the Police director of operations, said.