AN average of two to three accidents occur daily in Lake Victoria (Tanzania) every day and cost lives, a rescue officer has said.
Therefore, the government is committed to raising public awareness to ensure such accidents are minimised.
Addressing Miembeni Island residents in Sega Ward in Geita Region on lake safety challenges, Lake Victoria Rescue Unit Officer Joseph Mkumbo said an average of two to three accidents occurred daily in Lake Victoria on the 33,700km2 (49 per cent) portion of Tanzania.
"Currently, we have an average of two to three accidents that occur in Lake Victoria (on the Tanzanian side) every day and it has resulted in a high number of deaths. The main reason is the poor state of vessels, excessive number of passengers and cargo.
"Those who do not abide by lake safety regulations such as using life jackets mostly drown even where they could have been saved,” he explained.
Tanzania Shipping Agency Corporation (Tasac) Officer in Charge of Geita Region Rashid Katonga said there were many challenges facing users and owners of vessels. He said the majority had been ignoring safety precautions without knowing what that would lead to.
“We provide education at every corner, especially on the safety of vessel users to ensure every person is safe. We also register vessels, including fishing boats and passenger boats to ensure they are of good quality and safe to users.”
According to the Tasac official, the Geita Region is estimated to have more than 1,000 boats providing transport services on Lake Victoria of which, 750 are registered, 48 among them passenger transport services, while others are for fishing activities.
However, after receiving education on maritime safety and the importance of their vessels being registered, as well as considering the use of rescue equipment, residents of Mchangani and Monika islands in Senga Ward said they were ready to register their vessels and would adhere to safety procedures to save their lives when an accident occurred.
“We are employed as fishermen, our bosses do not provide us with buoys for our safety. Now we have received safety education from Tasac and realised that employers should provide us with safety jackets,” said one of the Geita fishermen.
Emphasising the safety of maritime transport, Tasac Director-General Emmanuel Ndomba noted that the government had set aside 4.2bn/- for the construction of six monitoring and rescue stations in the Lake Victoria Zone.