By URN, THE OBSERVER
Five people have died following a boat accident on R.Nile in Pacego village, Panyango sub-county in Pakwach district.
Frank Muzoora, the Pakwach district police commander identified the deceased as Salotta Kayeny, Christine Kizza and her 11-year-old daughter, Monica Ayiorwoth, Conny Nyamutoro and Chris Okwairwoth Junior, both pupils of Wangkawa primary school in Panyango.
Muzoora says the five were returning this morning from Nwoya district where they had gone for cultivation in a canoe loaded with sacks of foodstuffs, which were too heavy forcing it to capsize. The deceased’s bodies were recovered from different spots following a joint search by marine officials and residents.
Pacego village chairperson Kidonna Avila, whose wife Christine Kizza died in the accident, says they lack trained personnel at the landing site to help during emergencies. He said the five wouldn’t have died if there was a standby rescue team as the deceased tried to swim to safety in vain.
Francis Binega, the Panyango sub-county LC III chairperson says the district needs to come up with strict security measures to regulate water vessels.
“It’s absurd we are losing people in such controllable ways. These people have died due to human error and the district needs to arrest this issue. And I want to warn parents who engage children in such risky activities. Why can’t we employ experienced people to move on the water? Binega asked.
Robert Omito Steen, the Pakwach LC V chairperson, says most of the boats at Pacego Goro landing site are faulty, adding that many residents ignore safety precautions like wearing life jackets while using the vessels.
“We want to dismantle most of the boats at Pacego Goro landing site because we have time and again told locals that these vessels are in poor condition. I have also instructed the fisheries department to conduct a thorough assessment of all other vessels in the area. We can’t keep losing people just like that”, Omito said.
Josephine Angucia, the West Nile police spokesperson, said it was too late to save the lives of the deceased by the time the police marine unit arrived at the scene.
This is not the first time such a tragedy is happening in Pakwach district. In March 2018, eight family members perished at the same landing site on their way to their garden in Nwoya district. In December 2018, six people died after their canoe capsized at Pujwang landing site in Pakwach town council due to overloading.
Residents have since suggested that the authorities ban sailing beyond 5:00pm and stop women and children from rowing canoes on their own as part of long lasting solutions to the problem.