Bad weather characterized by heavy hail storms is the leading cause of accidents on Uganda’s lakes and rivers, the Uganda Maritime Police has said.
This was revealed by the Commandant Police Marines, Eng. James Apora at the pass out ceremony of 48 marine officers on Friday at the Marine Police base in Kigo.
“In the last six years (2015 to 2020), 1980 accidents/incidents have happened on Ugandan waters and we managed to rescue 1118 people, however, 862 lives were lost during that period,” Eng. Apora said.
“And the leading cause of drowning incidents are bad weather, overloading and poor state of the vessels,” he added.
The commandant added that the mandate of the unit is to ensure maintenance of law and order within Uganda water bodies, to monitor and coordinate search and rescue operations on the waters.
The unit is also in charge of enforcing government regulations on immigration, fishing and smuggling on Uganda waters.
Meanwhile, the Commissioner of Police, Lawrence Nuwabine, the Deputy Director Human Resources Development, who represented the Inspector General of Police, urged the Police Marine Unit to guard jealously the waters of Uganda since it’s one of the biggest revenue earners for the country and it can be infiltrated by wrong elements who may want to sabotage the economic development of Uganda.
CP Nuwabine pointed out that the only way to protect the water bodies effectively is by building the capacity of Marine Police through training and empowering the officers in the unit with the necessary equipment and funds.
He urged the officers to use community policing by engaging the fishing community to reduce incidents of drowning in the water bodies of Uganda, especially addressing the issue of over drinking alcohol.
During the 6 weeks intensive training, the now graduates underwent course modules such as navigation in the maritime domain, firefighting in maritime domain, diving, life saving on the water bodies among others.