KAMPALA. Statistics at the police Directorate of Fire and Emergency Response have shown more than 300 people drowned in the last three years, Daily Monitor reports.
According to the police, the most tragic incident was in 2013 which involved 150 nationals of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Lake Albert. The police rescued over 60 whereas nearly 90 passengers lost life.
“The victims had been refugees and they were going back to their homeland via Ntoroko district. The wooden boat they were sailing on was over powered by the waves since it was too rigid to maneuver,” Mr Joseph Mugisa, the directorate’s commander said on Tuesday.
Mr Mugisa said 100 people drowned in Lakes such as Lake Albert, Victoria, Rivers; Nile and Mayanja as a result of overloading, hitting rocks and lack of life saving jackets.
“Most drowning incidents on lakes and rivers are a result of overloading, wooden and old canoes which are not up the standards. Such boats are shuttered by strong water waves,” Mugisa said on Tuesday while speaking to this newspaper at his office.
Other 100 people have drowned in ponds and valley dams in the cattle corridors especially Rwizi and Savannah regions that include districts of Ibanda, Kiruhura, Sembabule,Luwero, Nakaseke and Nakasongola. The police say the causes of the drowning in Rwizi and Savannah regions ranged from swimming to cool bodies due to hot temperatures, rescuing drowned cattle and curiosity.
“People in the cattle corridors drown because they usually experience hot temperatures during the dry season. This forces them to try swimming purposely to cool bodies,” he said. He continued, “The cattle also drown in a bid to access streams since the shallow water sources usually dry up. The shepherds are usually attempted to rescue their cattle and end up dying in the waters.”
In Kampala Metropolitan (KMP) area that covers the areas of Kampala, Wakiso, Entebbe and Mukono, the causes of drowning according to Mugisa include alcohol, peer influence, curiosity and floods that usually hit most of the suburbs during heavy down pours.
“Most of the drowning incidents in KMP are due to alcohol. The victim drowned when they tried swimming under the influence of alcohol. Others go swimming because of band wagon. They want to show they know and end up being washed away by waves,” he stresses.
At least 50 people have so far downed since the start of this year in beaches, rivers and lakes. On Monday, five people from the same family drowned in Lake Bunyonyi after their locally made boat they were sailing capsized in the middle of the lake.
On July 25, four students from St Joseph Butenga Secondary School in Bukomansimbi district and Prince Kalema SS in Masaka drowned in Lake Nabugabo during a beach party.