As the country continues to mourn over the catastrophic accident on Lake Victoria over the weekend, several accounts continue to be told of what could have led to the incident which has so far claimed at least 30 lives.
A boat carrying an estimated 120 people sunk into the waters some few metres to Mutima island where it meant to make an emergency docking. It had began its voyage at Gaba landing site at around 5pm and aboard it were partiers who were on an excursion.
Some of the survivors who have so far come out to narrate what transpired have said the boat was leaking, which led to its gradual capsizing. Others have blamed the accident on the bad mechanical condition in which the boat was as well as the fact that it was overloaded.
A survivor identified as Arnold Ssimbwa however says that the boat flipped into water due to a strong tide.
This, he says, occurred just about 200 metres to the shore.
“The Captain realised that the tide was high and dangerously moving towards the boat. He alerted us and requested all of us to sit down and be calm,” he recounted in an account posted on his behalf by a friend.
The survivor says that the Captain “decided not to hit the tide head-on but turn the boat around and drift with it”.
“All those stories of water slipping through, of overloading the boat are all false.”
He said that in the process of turning the boat, the tide hit the boat from the sides and due to its enormous speed, the boat was forced to flip on one of its sides in a rather slow gradual motion.
“Guys fell off as it slowly capsized”.
This is when the horror of death hit him. He narrates how he got submerged into the water and how he resurfaced atop only to hear “frightened screams” and “total confusion”.
“I decided to hold myself onto one of the boats rails under water. I could only come up once in a while to gasp for fresh air and go back under water”.
Faced with the possibility of drowning to death, Ssimbwa says, he resorted to praying to God. In an emotional tale, he says he prayed to God to save him so he could have one more chance with his children.
“I repented all my sins and promised God I would live a better life henceforth. I prayed for one more chance to share my life with my kids”.
After about twenty minutes, he says, an engine canoe approached but that it was too full. Nevertheless, he decided to hang onto one of its sides as it aimed towards the shore.
He however gives insights of yet another horrific account of the sight of dead people including his friends whose bodies lay lifeless at the lake shore.
“What I found at the shore was more traumatising than the time I spent under water”.
“I found bodies lined up of people I knew, people I had shared with jokes, laughter, a couple of drinks and people I have broken bread with”.
He says he could not hold himself together as he closed their eyes one by one.
“I couldn’t believe how short this life is, a minute is too long for one to cross over”.
He said that from the shore, he and some seven others boarded a taxi and headed for Kampala.
“The rest is history, but I have learnt what it actually means to be a survivor having met death face to face,” he said.
Shocking as it is, Ssimbwa’s revelation of survival gives a shred of hope that just like himself and the other seven, there could be some among those not yet accounted for that actually survived the tragedy.
As of Sunday, the death toll from the accident was 30, according to the Police. The UPDF said that only 26 people had been rescued.
Government said on Sunday that it had instituted a committee led by Prime Minister, Dr Ruhakana Rugunda to investigate what caused the unfortunate incident to occur.