Preliminary Investigations into the marine accident which left 18 people dead when a boat carrying them capsized on Lake Mweru in Nchelenge District of Luapula Province have revealed that the boat capsized due to overloading and stormy weather that occurred on the lake.
The accident occurred on 13th February, 2019 between 09 and 10 hours and involved was a motorized wooden boat carrying 39 passengers travelling from mainland Nchelenge to Isokwe Island out of which 21 survived.
Acting Minister of Transport and Communications Mutotwe Kafwaya said the coxswain ignored warning of the stormy weather and kept loading the passengers and cargo and decided to sail despite the bad weather.
Mr. Kafwaya said unfortunately the boat did not have the required number of lifesaving appliances on board that could have prevented this tragedy.
He said Government has to this effect put in place measures to enhance water safety and procured three passenger vessels among them one 24 seater which is operational on Lake Mweru and two by 120 seater boats which are yet to be launched in Nchelenge and Samfya in an effort to provide safer transportation on the waters.
He said in order to expedite the launch of the two boats in Samfya and Nchelenge his Ministry liaised with the Ministry of Defense and the Ministry of Housing and Infrastructure Development to engage the army to construct temporary landing Jetties to operationalize the boats.
Mr. Kafwaya said going forward, the Ministry of Transport and Communications remains focused at setting policy and regulation and will timely capacitate staff in Local Authorities.
He said the Ministry is also reviewing the legal and institutional framework of the Department of Maritime and Inland Waterways which is responsible for the development, regulation, enforcement and registration of boat operators as well as the provision of oversight supervision to the sub-sector.