Dar es Salaam. The Member of Parliament for Ukerewe constituency, Mr Joseph Mkundi says the ferry accident which has claimed over 100 lives in Lake Victoria occurred on market day in Bugorora village—time when the demand for transport is high.
This, he says, could have contributed to overloading of the vessel, much to the level of causing an accident. The lawmaker told The Citizen in an interview that he was aware of the fact the government installed two new engines in the vessel about a month ago, as he has asked in parliament.
However, he says, the challenges with the ferry’s engines was just a tip of the iceberg for the transport challenges facing the people who ply between Ukerewe and other parts of the Lake Zone through Lake Victoria.
MV Nyerere, with the capacity of carrying 100 people and 25-tonnes of cargo, was serving a population of 50,000 people who ply between Ukerewe District and Ukara Island in Mwanza Region.
It is not clear how many people were on board when the ferry left the island and later went down. But unconfirmed reports say the vessel ended up carrying at least 300 people, majority being traders and that the ferry is said to have left with a lorry loaded with cereals.
So far, a report released by the Chief Secretary John Kijazi shows that 127 people have died. At least 40 people are reported to have survived in the accident.
Trips should increase
The MP, Mr Mkundi suggests the need for an increased number of trips to and from the destinations-especially on peak days, such as Thursdays when people flock in Bugorora for market.
“Though they maintained the ferry engines two months ago, no measures were taken to increase the number of trips between the two sides,” he told The Citizen.
Weeks ago, the lawmaker spoke in parliament, urging the government to rehabilitate the MV Nyerere ferry which, as fate would have it, sank days, later killing over 100 people.
However, on July 16, the Chief Executive Officer of Tanzania's Electrical and Mechanical Services Agency (Temesa), which operates the vessel, Dr Mussa Ngwatu said in Mwanza that two new engines had been fixed.
The engines, each with161killowat power and a gear box (all costing up to Sh191million) had been installed into the vessel, with technical assistance from Delta Industrial Equipment Limited.
The question that remains unanswered is why the accident occurred. The Inspector General of Police, Simon Sirro has called for an investigation into what might have actually caused the accident.