EFFORTS to salvage the ill-fated MV Nyerere at Ukara Island yielded fruits yesterday after a team charged with the responsibility managed to turn it upright.
The government-owned ferry capsized on September 20 while plying from Bugorora Village to Ukara Island in Ukerewe District, Mwanza Region, killing 228 people onboard. Briefing reporters yesterday, Tanzania Chief of Defence Forces (TPDF) General Venance Mabeyo said, having turned it upright, efforts were now being made to draw water from its compartments before dragging it ashore.
“As you can see, the ferry is now upright. We thank all who, in one way or another, have contributed towards this stage. What follows now is to remove water from the vessel before dragging it to the shore,” CDF Mabeyo said. He said after bringing the vessel onshore engineers would assess it to establish if there is a possibility of repairing it.
However, Works, Transport and Communication Minister Engineer Isaack Kamwelwe, who has been in charge of the operations at Ukara, said condolences and donations towards the bereaved and survivors have continued to trickle in.
By yesterday morning, according to the minister, contributions had reached 744.01m/- with Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) being among the contributors. During the operation to salvage the vessel, two more bodies were recovered bringing the total number of people who died in the marine tragedy to 228.
The sank and retrieved MV Nyerere last Thursday in Mwanza reminds the public of a marine tragedy that struck Tanzania on May 21, 1996, where the MV Bukoba capsized 56 km off Mwanza, killing up to 1,000 people. However, the official deaths record was 894.
Meanwhile, inaugurating the first country’s flyover-Mfugale Flyover, President JohnMagufuli said leaders and the general public should learn from the latest marine accident to avert similar tragedies from recurring in future.
The president in the event ordered for an immediate floating of a tender to purchase the much bigger new vessel to ply between Bugorora and Ukara Island. While MV Nyerere had the capacity to carry 101 persons and 25 tonnes of cargo, initial report showed it had close to 270 people, and a tractor onboard and that might have contributed to its overloading and eventually capsize during the area market day.
However, former Chief of Defence Forces (CDF) Gen George Waitara will lead a seven- member team that will probe reasons that led to the capsize of the ferry.