By Peter Abaanabasazi
The Marine Police unit has banned the sailing of people without lifesaving gadgets on the waters of Lake Albert.
This was revealed by Michael Walwanga, the Deputy Commandant Marine Police Unit while receiving life-saving and rescue equipment donated by International Organization for Migration (IOM) to the Marine Unit at Sebagoro landing site in Kabwoya Sub-County, Kukuube district.
Walwanga says enforcement officers have already been deployed on the Lake to crackdown on transporters flouting lifejacket rules.
He has urged all transporters to acquire life-saving jackets for their passengers.
He noted that the initiative is aimed at reducing the increasing water accidents on the shores of Lake Albert.
He added that hundreds of people including Congolese refugees have lost their lives because of sailing on the waters without life-saving jackets.
He adds that anybody who sails people on the waters without life-saving jackets commits a crime according section 233 of the Penal Code.
While handing over the life-saving and rescue equipment, Ali Abdi, the Chief of Mission for IOM said the equipment will help in saving and rescuing lives of accident victims on Lake Albert.
The equipment worth 20,000 US dollars includes the final batch of 315 life-saving jackets in the addition to 85 that were handed over this year in March, Seven very high frequency radios, 50 light emitting diode torches and 100 pairs of lead batteries.
Abidi commended the Ugandan government for the hospitality given to the refugees and pledged continued support to ensure that the refugees enjoy their rights.
The donation comes on the backdrop of increased water accidents on Lake Albert in Hoima, Kikuube, Kagadi, and Buliisa districts in Bunyoro sub region.
Scores of refugees from eastern DR Congo have lost their lives in boat accidents while trying to cross into Uganda on Lake Albert.
In February 2018, four Congolese refugees who were fleeing tribal clashes in Ituri province died after their boat capsized in Lake Albert in Hoima district.
More than 81,000 Congolese refugees have fled to Uganda from DR Congo since the beginning of 2018, according to the UN Refugee Agency- UNHCR. Nearly half of the arrivals are crossing into Uganda on the choppy waters of Lake Albert without protective gear, aboard unstable and overcrowded fishing boats.