The Lake Victoria boat accident that claimed dozens of lives last Saturday has put government on the spot over Shs53bn borrowed in 2017 to set up a rescue centre.
While tabling the loan request last year, Government argued that the loan, whose funding came from the African Development Bank was aimed at improving wireless communication on Lake Victoria, making calls for help possible using existing GSM coverage over the lake, setting up 16 search and rescue stations around the lake with boats and rescue teams among others.
Government also argued that the loan would be used to set up a Maritime Rescue Communication Centre (MRCC) capable of receiving and responding to distress calls, locating the victims, mobilizing, controlling and coordinating rescue missions.
However, one year down the road, the utilization of the funds has been brought into doubts following the Lake Victoria accident, whose rescue exercise exposed loopholes into the utilization of the loan after the rescue mission showed lack of communication and rescue services on the lake.
The local fishermen have relied on rudimentary tools to rescue and retrieve bodies from the lake.
It is against this background that Jacob Oulanyah, the Deputy Speaker tasked Government to produce a progressive report on the implementation and utilization of the USD14.4M loan that was approved by Parliament in 2017 with the aim of enhancing maritime communication on Lake Victoria.
Oulanyah issued the directive during Tuesday’s plenary sitting in response to the tragedy that occurred on Lake Victoria over the weekend where over 30 bodies lost their lives and dozens are still missing.
“In a bid to improve water transport on Lake Victoria, Parliament on the 28th November 2017 advised Government to borrow units of USD14.4M approximately Shs53,816,316,567bn to support multinational Lake Victoria Communication…. I urge Government to expedite the establishment of the Maritine and rescue center,” Oulanyah said.
Meanwhile, Government has declared Friday as the day of mourning for the departed people that lost their lives during the Lake Victoria accident.