As the country continues to mourn the death of victims of the last weekend’s boat accident on Lake Victoria, the ministry in charge of disaster preparedness has called for calm among Ugandans and warned against blame game.
The Government set today for national mourning. MV Templar Boat with over 100 revellers aboard capsized a short distance from the shore, off Mutima Beach in Mukono district. With 32 bodies recovered and 26 people rescued, the Police has since blamed the accident on overloading, poor condition of the boat and bad weather.
Yesterday, the state minister for disaster preparedness, Musa Ecweru, said: “This accident, among others, provides us lessons to learn as a country so that we who are responsible for policy making, should now update our policies to even take care of some of the virgin areas in ensuring effective disaster management.” On the question of the ministry having played no role in the rescue efforts of the victims, the minister rubbished the claims, insisting that they have co-ordinated with all the government agencies and departments through the Office of the Prime Minister.
“We have continued to perform our role of coordinating operations. That is what the Prime Minister has been doing,” he said.
“The most important thing is, we should treat the injured and ensure that everybody anticipated to have been on the boat is accounted for.”
Ecweru made the comments during a public policy dialogue on management of disasters at Uganda Management Institute (UMI) in Kampala. He added that the ministry was open to receiving suggestions on how the country can improve on disaster management to prevent or mitigate future occurrences.
“To be honest, I do not want any blame game; it is morally wrong to blame the dead. That is why we do not want to say so and so made this mistake. It looks like all of us may have erred. For instance, we had institutions of government there, represented by the Police, maybe they did not do a good job, adequate enough to prevent what happened.” He added: “We have the citizens themselves. Maybe they did not take enough care to avert what happened. But in the process, what happened, happened. It is now critical if we said sorry to those who are alive and condolences to the families of the bereaved.”