The Police are hunting for two men alleged to be the skippers of the Templar boat that capsized in Lake Victoria on Saturday evening. The boat capsized near Mutima Beach in Mpatta sub-county, Mukono district. According to Police, over 100 people are believed to have been on board.
However, following the tragedy, only 26 people survived, 32 confirmed dead and several others remain uncounted for.
According to security sources, the Templar skippers have been identified as David Mukwaya and Joel Eguma.
The sources said on the fateful day, Eguma, who is said to be a learner skipper, was manning the boat on the orders of his boss, Michael Templar Bisase. It is said that before the incident, Bisase had fallen out with his senior skipper, Mukwaya, because the latter insisted that the boat had mechanical difficulties.
The source added that this was Eguma’s first time to pilot the boat. “Just like taxi conductors learn from drivers, Eguma was learning from Mukwaya. So, when Mukwaya fell out with Bisase, Eguma was the substitute,” the source said.
It is alleged that someone tipped the marine Police that the boat had issues, which compelled the Police to approach them before they set off Despite a long discussion and warnings from the marine Police, the revellers, some who were drunk, intimidated the security officers.
The source said: “It is a policy that whenever a boat is to start the journey, there are two people navigating, but in this case, it was only Eguma, a learner.”
Some of the survivors have revealed that during the journey, Bisase provided technical assistance to Eguma to navigate the boat. This explains why, reportedly, at the time of the accident, Bisase was in the engine room, where he was apparently trapped after the boat capsized.
“Bisase frequently checked on Eguma to find out whether everything was going on well,”
One survivor said in corridors during John Nyanzi’s requiem mass. The mass took place on Monday at Our Lady of Mount
Carmel Catholic Parish in Kasanga, a Kampala suburb. The survivor added that Bisase was the first person to warn revelers of danger.
In addition, the survivor said Bisase appealed to them to wear life jackets and make sure they balanced the boat by avoiding sitting on one side.
“A few minutes after Bisase warned us, the boat started losing direction. We got frightened and started fighting for life jackets,” the survivor added.
According to Internal Security Organisation (ISO) boss Col. Frank Bagyenda Kaka, they are conducting investigations into the matter. He said if it is true that both Mukwaya and Eguma are missing, ISO wants to establish why they are on the run if they are not linked to the accident.
“ISO picked interest regarding the matter from inception. We have three major areas of interest. That is, whether the accident was not as a result of the prevailing political sabotage in the country; whether the accident was not linked to business rivalry or it was not as a result of criminal negligence,” Kaka said.
Kaka added that in their investigations, they will involve many people, including survivors and captains. However, he explained that ISO will not disrupt investigations which are being conducted by the Police.
“It raises questions why Mukwaya has not come out and not even the body of Eguma has been discovered,” Kaka said.
The Police said they have embarked on establishing whether the killer boat had Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking devise or a maritime black box (MBB). The GPS device would enable to locate the earlier movements of Templar boat
before it capsized. The MBB would be used to tell what could have happened inside the boat leading to either machinery or communication failure.
The Police have confirmed that the boat had been under repair at a certain workshop around Lake Victoria. Zurah Ganyana, a Police publicist, confirmed that they are searching for the skipper who navigated the boat that day.
“We want him dead or alive. He could be among the missing bodies or survivors who are not accounted for,” Ganyana said.
She also confirmed that the skipper on that fateful day was a learner.
“We want to find out what could have compelled the experienced captain to abandon and surrender to someone else.”