By Goodluck Musinguzi
Gen Wamala Katumba, Minister of Works and Transport plus Uganda National Roads Authority(UNRA) should expedite the construction of two ferries promised for Lake Bunyonyi, Africa’s second deepest lake. Locals are decrying the constant death and hampering of critical services of government.
There are big waves that build up in Lake Bunyonyi at certain hours of the day and are the cause of tossing away small canoes that eventually cause death of people.
Hon David Bahati, the Member of Parliament for Ndorwa West that covers one of the parts of Lake Bunyonyi reported the death of three young people who perished when a wave hit a canoe with seven youth aboad.
“Three young people never made it to the shoreline of Lake Bunyonyi, four were rescued. I learnt with great sadness the tragedy of the untimely death, by drowning in Lake Bunyonyi, of three young people from Butanda Sub County, Ndorwa County West on Tuesday 11th August 2020”, Hon Bahati said.
Hon David Bahati, doubles as State Minister of Finance in Charge of Planning says this, and other tragedies that have taken place in Lake Bunyonyi, are some of the the reasons we have consistently pushed for the deployment of ferries on the lake to provide more safe transport for our people.
He said the three young people were among those who were coming from a commendable civic duty when tragedy befell them.
“I have been in touch with their families since the incident happened.May the souls of the departed rest in eternal peace, and May God heal those who survived the accident”, Bahati added.
Many locals who talked to Kigezi News via phone said their hope is alive that government will fulfill the promise. Recently UNRA recently sent a team to identify places that will act as landing sites.
Below are some of the death that have happened on Lake Bunyonyi.
The lake lies between Rubanda and Kabale districts and is believed to be the second deepest in Africa after Lake Tanganyika. Lake Bunyonyi hosts 29 islands with institutions of learning, churches, health centres, and a number of tourist sites.
On June 24, two Juveniles that drowned in Lake Bunyonyi, Moreen Ninsiima, 15, a Senior Two student at Creamland High School in Kabale Town and Evidence Kakuru, 15, a pupil at Kyenyi Primary School in Muko Sub-county, Rubanda District were sailing in a makeshift canoe while returning from harvesting crops from their family gardens. They were all residents of Karambo village Ikamiro Parish, Muko Sub-county in Rubanda.
Five people from different families in Hamukaka Village in Kyenyi Parish, Muko Sub-county drowned in June 2018 after the canoe in which they were sailing capsised as they crossed to Karambo Landing Site to work in their crop gardens.
On August 20, 2016, five people from the same family in Rwanyena Village, Rubaya Sub-county in Kabale drowned in the lake after a locally made boat capsised.
They were returning from a wedding function in the neighbouring main land of Kamuganguzi Sub-county.
Many people on the islands use canoes to carry agriculture produce to Kyevu and Muko markets in Rubanda District. The chairperson of Ryakarimira Town Council in Kabale District, Mr Enock Kazooba, said at least four people drown in the lake every month.
“We hope this situation will change once the proposed establishment of a ferry means of transport is fulfilled by government,” Mr Kazooba says.
Mr Pastoli Twinomuhangi, the Rubanda chairperson, says: “June, July and August are the worst months because there is too much wind and strong waves in the lake.”
Mr Elidadi Tuwangye, a resident of Harutinda Village, Kitumba Sub-county in Kabale, says almost every household around Lake Bunyonyi has a dugout canoe they use to cross the lake for farming, schooling and attending religious and other social activities such as wedding and burials.
“These canoes are sometimes overloaded with passengers and agriculture produce. Establishment of a ferry or having several engine boats on Lake Bunyonyi can reduce fatal accidents,” Mr Tuwangye says.
The Kigezi regional police spokesperson, Mr Elly Matter, said many cases of people who drown in the lake are not reported by locals because they are not criminal in nature.
During the2016 presidential campaigns, President Museveni promised to establish a ferry on Lake Bunyonyi following a plea from locals.
Last month, a team of officials from Uganda National Roads Authority led by the director of road infrastructure, Mr Reuben Tumwebaze, visited the lake for a feasibility study on the establishment of two ferries.