Uganda: Rescuers demand reward from survivors

Kampala. Individuals claiming to have rescued merrymakers from MV Templar as it capsized on Lake Victoria on November 24, say those they saved have reneged on promises to reward them.

Ten of the said rescuers, all fishermen, told this newspaper that they initially had no expectation of pay when they volunteered to pick dying men and women from the murky and turbulent waters at nightfall.

However, they formed an opinion to expect a return on their efforts following unsolicited offers by some of the boat tragedy victims in their moment of distress.

Mr Amuza Mulwana, who said he was one of the first responders, said he saved seven people and each promised to return to thank him after getting to their homes in various parts of the city.

“I have not seen anyone since,” he said, adding that his smart phone dropped in water after a survivor knocked it during a clamour to be on the salvage boat.

Mr Joseph Komakech, another fisherman, said the revellers he saved made similar offers, but none has honoured them.

Mr Komakech said he does not remember the number of individuals he saved during three round trips between the sunken barge and the shoreline.

The vessel, which was carrying mainly socialites on a joy ride to K Palm Beach in Mukono District, tipped after varying degrees of mechanical failure.

Survivors, among them artiste Irene Namubiru, have spoken of premonitions of tragedy following news that the boat had mechanical problems but they ignored the ominous signs because majority of them were drunk and obstinate.

Namubiru speaks out
“Many never had a (life) jacket, and many who had did not even fasten them…People were in a happy mood and many were already so drunk or tipsy,” she wrote in a lengthy Facebook post that provided the first blow-by-blow account of the events prior, during and after the catastrophe.

The singer in the post noted that a Kampala International University student called Brian Masole saved her, although a fisherman who identified himself as Abdullah Nsubuga claimed in an interview with this newspaper on Monday that he pulled the musician to safety.

Mr Nsubuga also claimed that he slapped and restrained her from returning to the waters in search of her bag and mobile phone handset; two items Ms Namubiru mentions in her Facebook post.
In the end, it was the student who turned up at the artiste’s residence with the items.

A one Amuza Mulwana also said he saved seven boat victims and none of them has returned to reward him as they promised.

We could not independently verify these claims since the fishermen did not keep particulars of the individuals they rescued.

Mr George Onyango, who said he got Prince David Wasajja out of harm’s way, said he expects him to return to thank him.

The fishermen also want the survivors to pay homage to the family of Bosco Owecho, a fisherman, who drowned rescuing them.

For Mr Elly Ssemambo, another rescuer, a survivor left his smart phone for him.

By Daily Monitor

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