Monday, May 21, 2012


MV Bukoba was a Lake Victoria ferry that carried passengers and cargo between the Tanzanian ports of Bukoba and Mwanza. On 21 May 1996 she sank with great loss of life, reported as up to 1000 passengers drowned.[1] This occurred in 25 metres (14 fathoms) of water, 30 nautical miles (56 km) off Mwanza.
Bukoba was built in about 1979 and had capacity for 850 tons of cargo and 430 passengers. The manifest showed 443 passengers in her first and second class cabins, but her cheaper third class accommodation had no manifest. Mr. Y. A. Rushaka (my dad) was one among few survivors.
Possible causes were identified by Captain Joseph Muguthi, formerly a captain in the Kenya Navy, and writing in the pages of the Daily Nation as a marine navigation consultant. He labeled it an accident waiting to happen, as Lake Victoria ferries disregarded safety regulations. Specifically:
1. lack of life jackets, life rings, and life boats
2. lack of firefighting equipment
3. lack of distress signals
4. what equipment there is, is not regularly checked
5. the vessels are not regularly dry docked for routine maintenance and repairs
6. the vessels are not regularly inspected
7. the coxswain are not licensed to navigate
More overarching, Muguthi blamed the incident on governments' marine departments being staffed by civil servants and politicians who have no understanding of ships and marine decisions.
The lack of equipment and divers were partially to blame for slowness in the salvage operation. Rescue teams from South Africa, including Navy divers, were flown in to salvage the ship and retrieve bodies.
President Benjamin Mkapa declared three days
Khalid Rushaka with A long sleeve and tie
of national mourning. Criminal charges were brought against nine Tanzania Railway Corporation officials, including the captain of the Bukoba and the manager of TRC's Marine Division.
May Almighty forgive their sins those who died that day, and grant them heaven.

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